Lidocaine is a commonly used local anesthetic in medicine & dentistry. When infused directly into the blood, it can temporarily reduce all pain signals in the body. Pain physicians leverage this effect to reset chronic pain circuit.
Lidocaine binds to voltage-gated sodium channels in the brain & nerves. By profoundly reducing pain signal, lidocaine infusion treats central sensitization (heightened sensitivity across the senses) in peripheral neuropathy, erythromelalgia, and visceral hypersensitivity.
During the infusion, lidocaine can cause drowsiness, metallic taste in the mouth, and ringing in the ears. At much larger doses, lidocaine may cause cardiac arrhythmia, seizures, and loss of consciousness.
Patients with impaired drug metabolism may be particularly sensitive to lidocaine.
There are no long-term side effects with lidocaine.
For pain treatment, we seek the long-term therapeutic effects of short-term profound pain reduction.
This is typically performed as a one-day out-patient infusion (1 to 2-hour long), or in-hospital around-the-clock infusions over several days. Patients are awake but drowsy during the infusion, and will need a responsible adult and dependable transport home.
Lidocaine infusion is given as a part of an interdisciplinary pain plan that includes physical therapy, psychological therapy, and other non-opioid oral pain medications.