Lidocaine Patches

Medicated Pain Relief Patch for Back Pain

Lidocaine patches are topical pain relief patches that contain the local anesthetic drug lidocaine. They work by numbing the skin and underlying tissues to relieve pain. The patches are applied to the skin over the painful area and release the lidocaine slowly into the tissues, providing pain relief for up to 12 hours.

Lidocaine patches are often used to treat conditions such as:

  • Pain from nerve damage (neuropathic pain)
  • Joint pain due to osteoarthritis
  • Muscle pain

How do lidocaine patches work?

Lidocaine patches work by releasing the anesthetic lidocaine into the skin and underlying tissues. Lidocaine blocks the sodium channels in the nerve fibers, preventing the transmission of pain signals to the brain.

The patches are applied directly to the affected area and the medication is absorbed through the skin. 

Side effects of lidocaine patches

As with any medication, there are potential side effects when using a lidocaine patch that should be considered. The side effects of lidocaine patches may include:

  • Skin irritation or redness at the site of application
  • Allergic reaction (rash, itching, hives)
  • Numbness or tingling of the skin beyond the area of the patch
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Headache
  • Nausea

It’s important to use the patches as directed and to contact a healthcare provider if any serious side effects occur.

Learn more about wearing lidocaine patches safely here

How long does it take for a lidocaine patch to start working?

It can take 30 minutes to 2 hours for a lidocaine patch to start working. It may take 2-4 weeks of daily use to get the full benefit.

Learn more about how to maximize the benefit of lidocaine patches here.

How long does a lidocaine patch work?

Lidocaine patches typically work for 8 to 12 hours.

The exact duration of pain relief can vary based on factors such as the size of the patch, the amount of active ingredient in the patch, and the individual’s metabolism.

What are the benefits of a lidocaine patch over other medications?

The benefits of a lidocaine patch over other medications for pain management include:

  • Localized pain relief: The patch delivers the medication directly to the site of pain, which can provide more targeted and effective pain relief compared to oral medications that can have systemic side effects.
  • Fewer side effects: Because the lidocaine is delivered locally through the skin, the risk of systemic side effects, such as nausea or dizziness, is reduced compared to oral medications.
  • Convenience: The patch is easy to use and can be applied at home, without the need for injections or other procedures.
  • Long-acting: Lidocaine patches can provide pain relief for up to 12 hours, making them a convenient option for people who need pain relief throughout the day.

It’s important to note that while lidocaine patches have these potential benefits, they may not be the best option for everyone and should only be used as directed by a healthcare provider. A healthcare provider can determine the best treatment options based on an individual’s specific needs and medical history.

Learn more about the pros and cons of lidocaine patches here


Gammaitoni AR, Alvarez NA, Galer BS. Pharmacokinetics and safety of continuously applied lidocaine patches 5%. Am J Health Syst Pharm. 2002;59(22):2215-2220. 

Comer AM, Lamb HM. Lidocaine patch 5%. Drugs. 2000;59(2):245-251. 

“Lidocaine Transdermal Patch”, MedlinePlus, 28/9/2023,

About the Author

Dave Harrison, MD

Dr. Harrison is a board certified Emergency Physician with a part time appointment at San Francisco General Medical Center and is an Assistant Clinical Professor-Volunteer at the UCSF School of Medicine. Dr. Harrison attended medical school at Tufts University and completed his Emergency Medicine residency at the University of Southern California. Dr. Harrison manages the editorial process for