Lidocaine for sciatica, commonly used as a lidocaine patch, is gaining popularity as a therapeutic product for treating a myriad of leg and back pain disorders. When used as a remedy for sciatica, it is used as an injection given directly into the painful areas of the spine or muscles or as a topical transdermal patch. Let’s learn more about its working, side effects, and uses.
Overview of Lidocaine
Lidocaine is a local anesthetic that is known to treat the signs of minor surgeries and several aching conditions including dental ones. As a tested, multipurpose anesthetic, lidocaine is already in use for general and specific healing procedures. It is a major ingredient of several epidural injections and a key drug ensuring efficacy when used for moderate treatments.
The anesthetic is used to heal sciatica mainly in the form of a patch commonly known as Lidoderm. When applied to the site of pain, the patch affects the underlying tissue superficially instead of going deep inside. This is how its approach is for treating several deep muscular or spinal roots of sciatica.
For a deeper impact, the drug is given through an intravenous drip. Such an injection is known to give short-term relief but is likely to help in keeping acute pain or sciatica spasms at bay.
Lidocaine patch for sciatica
Lidocaine has multiple therapeutic uses. Still, it is not a permanent cure for any disorder or its symptoms. Sciatica is a chronic disorder and this drug is only an indicative treatment that is likely to work only for a few cases. However, you can rely on its transdermal lidocaine patches instead of its oral form. This is because this form of ingestion has minimum side effects while ensuring relief in the targeted local area.
Working of lidocaine patch
Sold by the brand Lidoderm, lidocaine patch 5% is a prescription-only anesthetic meant for topical use only. Similar OTC variations are available but they contain less lidocaine.
Lidocaine is infused into a patch that sticks to your skin after which the drug penetrates your body to alleviate pain by affecting the nerve signals. Thus, it is alleged that this patch can even help in reducing nerve-triggered chronic pain in the neck as well as back.
These patches have lidocaine, which is a known numbing agent. Once you apply the patch to the targeted area, the drug is absorbed via your skin. As only a part of lidocaine is absorbed, there is no feeling of numbness.
Most patients start experiencing its effects in a couple of hours of its application. Experts believe that the patch alleviates pain by hindering nerve signals by triggering its analgesic properties in the region beneath the batch.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the anesthetic to manage pain triggered by PostHerpetic Neuralgia (PHN), a complicated condition featuring shingles complication. So, using it for managing nerve-based or neuropathic pain in the back is regarded as an off-label use at present. Off-label refers to a type of medicine or tool used without the suggestion of the FDA.
Use it for treating back pain?
Thus, you may wonder whether to use these patches for treating back pain. However, this is not a big concern as it may sound. There are many other off-label medicines in use. For example, aspirin is an off-label drug that is still considered safe and is often recommended by physicians. Formerly used to treat pain, aspirin can even prevent cardiovascular issues according to the studies until now.
Although not suggested for neuropathic spine pain, a patch of lidocaine for sciatica can reduce low back pain as well as pain triggered due to osteoarthritis according to the existing evidence. However, a physician may suggest it for managing other spinal issues as well.
Safe use of lidocaine patches for sciatica patients
A doctor is likely to prescribe lidocaine patches along with other medicines such as anticonvulsants to those who are experiencing nerve-based chronic pain in their back. This is done with the hope that this mix of medicines will aid in managing neuropathic pain and enhance your daily function. However, you need to discuss every medicine including the OTC ones with your doctor so that the risk of adverse interactions is minimized.
You should always take a lidocaine patch on healthy skin, which means that the targeted area of the skin should not have any cuts or blisters. If that part of the skin is cracked, applying a patch on it can have an adverse effect or no positive effect at all.
When absorbed in high quantities, this drug can prove to be toxic. Thus, it is recommended to use only up to three patches within 12 hours, which should be followed by a break of 12 hours.
Side effects of lidocaine for sciatica treatment
For those who are willing to use lidocaine, the good news is that this drug has a few side effects. This is true, particularly when compared to other similar medications. Following are the common side effects:
- Small purple or red spots
- Skin irritation
The extremely rare but serious side effects are as follows:
- Cardio issues
- Abnormal heartbeat
- Malignant hyperthermia
A localized allergic reaction marked by swelling and redness is perhaps the most common side effect. A highly-possible negative effect is either a poor outcome or a good result lasting only for a very short duration. When taken through an injection, the drug has some more risks such as spinal fluid leak and an infection.
It is an indication of caution if you suddenly experience convulsions, uneven heartbeats, or reduced breathing. In this case, you must immediately contact your doctor, as you need emergency treatment. These side effects are usually the result of a lidocaine overdose.
Anyways, it is vital to consult your doctor prior to using lidocaine in any form for healing any muscle or back pain. Doing so will ensure that it is likely to be a safer option for you, as the probability of an allergic reaction or an adverse drug interaction is reduced significantly.
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