Lidoderm (Lidocaine Patch 5%) for shingles pain

Shingles hurts. So much focus gets put on the skin rash but for most folks, the skin rash is pretty secondary to the whole thing. It's the nerve that is being inflamed by the shingles virus that is screaming painful. Any nerve can be affected and from there the pain radiates along three circuits, or so the doctors have said. In my case, the virus attached itself to my sciatic nerve. A lot of folks get it in their optic nerve, which personally I think would be way worse. And that's saying a LOT, because shingles in the sciatic nerve is very very painful.

In a previous post, I wrote about alternating ice packs and warm baths to help cope with the pain of shingles. While that method does help, it requires significant time investment. I went searching for more immediate relief. Before I get to that, let me just say that when I first started my desperate quest for a diagnosis, I was given several doses of morphine by the first doctor. Morphine took the edge off the pain very very briefly (hence the several doses). Effectively, it was useless against shingles pain.

That doctor also gave me a prescription for 5mg of percoset which proved to be equally ineffective. Another doctor upped the dose to 7.5mg of percoset. That worked better, but I would only be pain free for 3 hours of a 6 hour dose - but loopy throughout. The small amount of pain relief coupled with the loopiness made me shelve percoset. Besides which, percoset is an addictive narcotic and not something I wanted to rely upon to begin with.

My search for more viable pain relief led me to ask my doctor if I'd be a candidate for the Lidoderm patch. She thought I would so she kindly wrote a prescription. So far, I'm pretty impressed. The pain for me runs back to front so I cut the patch in two and put half over the pain point in the back and the other half in the front.

You cannot put the lidocaine patch on the rash itself! This is very important! I was extremely fortunate that my rash was tiny to begin with and in an area that was off to the side of the worst pain points so I was able to sandwich the patch in just fine.

Relief from the patch comes in about 20 minutes. It's the same level of relief (aka pretty darn good) that would ordinarily take me 4 hours of alternating cold and heat to the area. Coupled with my Tagament trial, I'm feeling hopefully optimistic. I'll keep you posted.

10 comments:

  1. Thanks for the info. We were given the patches for shingles and the pharmacist at Kaiser said it should be fine to place the patches on the rash.

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  2. I have been living in absolute torture from the pain of shingles, when suddenly I remembered that my husband, who died in mortal agony of cancer in his pancreas, had left behind two whole boxes of lidocaine patches 5%. I asked my Dr if he would prescribe those for me and OMG! MIRACLE ON 42ND STREET !
    I cut the piece into 3 rectangles, tho 3 pieces still didn't cover my intense pain area, but everywhere I put one, END OF PAIN! Like, I mean, END of pain! Before that, even opiates mixed with valium and gabapentin (nerve med) did almost NOTHING. OMG. These Lidocaine 5% patches are a gift from the galaxy. PLEASE see if your doc will let you have some, and I hope you have good insurance. If I hadn't have saved them, I couldn't have afforded them. My Obamacare costs $1,100 a month with a $9,000 deductible, so I guess I'm paying for the people at the bottom now, which is okay, but I'm spending thousands out of pocket, every penny, for my own medical care, because I never hit $9,000. More than HALF OF MY INCOME goes JUST to Obamacare. Yes, I'm disgusted. Working people are left drained of money and with virtually NO INSURANCE, and I know that people who never worked are getting everything free. Well, since I can't fix it, I will just be glad to help those people at the bottom, but kinda wish I hadn't had six jobs at a time all my life to get by, only to end up UNINSURED for the price of $14,000 a year which buys me NOTHING, NADA, not one dollar of help with my medical. Wow. Anyway, God bless Lidocaine 5% patches!

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  3. Thanks for this! I am in week four with sharp electrifying pain in my neck shoulder and arm day and night. Gabapentin, tramadol and ibuprofen help. So does a hot shower to massage the deep tissues and then freezing cold rinse to deaden the skin. I started lidocaine patch yesterday and at the same time had acupuncture with electric stimulation and feel a noticeable relief today. I will continue with acupuncture every couple days and lidocaine in addition to the meds. Hope this is helpful to anyone suffering through this!! Hang in there.

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    1. Joe, is electrification actually good for Shingles? It would seem to aggravate nerve more. My wife has face, eye and scalp pain. Trying to find help and options to help her. Thanks in advance for information

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  4. I have shingles on my face. The blisters are gone, and beginning to heal. But the nerve pain! In my cheek, chin, gums, tongue, ear canal...How would the patches work on my face? And would they reach deeply enough to help with the interior pain?

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    1. Liz, I have found that lidocaine patches are the only thing that seems to reach interior nerve pain. Make sure you ask your doctor to prescribe the brand name Lidoderm from Endo Labs. Do not get the generic if you can help it. The patch is considerably different between the real Lidoderm and the generics. Adhesion is everything with a patch so it makes a real difference in getting good surface to skin coverage. You can cut the patches into any shape or size to fit the area you need. Cut before peeling the backing, and store the unpeeled / unused in the original pouch. I can't imagine the discomfort / pain you are in having the nerves in your face affected. {{{hugs}}}

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  5. I have the rash on my face now. A few hours ago I remembered having some of the patches in my closet and I rushed to get one and put it on and Oh My Gosh!!!!! A gift from God himself!!!!

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    1. Thank you for your post, Victoria. It made me smile because I remember EXACTLY how that feels. It's like a miracle.

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  6. Victoria, you can put the patch on your face?
    My wife had the pain on face, eye and scalp.
    She has had this going on for 1 year.
    Tramadol doing some good, but, doesn't want to stay on that.

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