What Is the Lidocaine Patch Used For?

The lidocaine patch is licensed to treat postherpetic neuralgia pain, a type of nerve pain that can occur following a case of shingles. This prescription medication works by stopping nerve impulses that send pain signals to the brain. This medication is only approved for use in adults. Possible off-label uses for the lidocaine patch including treating other types of pain.

An Overview of Lidocaine Patch Uses

The lidocaine patch (Lidoderm® patch) is a prescription pain medication. The lidocaine patch is approved to treat postherpetic neuralgia, a specific type of pain that occurs after a case of shingles.
 
While shingles can be quite bothersome and painful when it occurs, it sometimes pales in comparison to the potential complication that may occur afterward known as postherpetic neuralgia.
 
Postherpetic neuralgia is pain that is present in the affected area for months, or even years, after the shingles rash has healed. Typically, the most bothersome of postherpetic neuralgia symptoms is pain. The pain with postherpetic neuralgia may be described as agonizing, excruciating, burning, sharp, electric-like jabs, throbbing, or aching. This pain can result in an inability to perform daily tasks of living.
 
Postherpetic neuralgia can be very frustrating, as there is "nothing wrong" (at least visibly) with the area causing the extreme pain.
 
Postherpetic neuralgia treatment usually involves medication. The lidocaine patch is one of the medications approved to treat the pain associated with postherpetic neuralgia.
 

How Does the Medication Work?

The lidocaine patch contains lidocaine, an anesthetic. It works by inhibiting the nerve impulses that pass along pain signals to the brain. At high enough doses, lidocaine can cause complete numbness. However, typically only enough lidocaine passes from the lidocaine patch into the skin to cause pain relief, not complete loss of sensation.
 
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