What are the Most Common Uses for a Lidocaine Injection?

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  • Written By: Amy Hunter
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 30 October 2019
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The most common use for a lidocaine injection is to numb an area of the body before a medical procedure or minor surgery. The injection is made into muscle or under the skin, depending on the area the healthcare provider would like to numb. In addition to injection, lidocaine can be given through infusion. A lidocaine injection is commonly given before many dental procedures. Lidocaine provides a rapid onset of pain relief, making it a popular choice for many medical procedures.

Less frequent reasons someone may receive a lidocaine injection include treatment for arthritis pain, an irregular heartbeat, and seizures. Lidocaine is used to treat these conditions only when other, more conventional, treatments have failed. When given for arthritis pain, lidocaine is typically combined with cortisone. The resulting liquid is injected directly into the joint. Pain relief may take several days, and last for several weeks.

Possible side effects after a lidocaine injection are typically mild and may include nausea. Less common, but more serious side effects are changes in mental status, drowsiness, dizziness, changes in vision, backache, and lingering numbness. Anyone experiencing these more serious side effects should notify their healthcare provider. Another possible complication of lidocaine injections is an allergic reaction. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include swelling, itching, trouble breathing, and a rash.


Although lidocaine is generally considered safe, individuals with certain medical conditions should avoid using this medication. Health conditions that contraindicate the use of lidocaine include kidney or liver conditions, high or low blood pressure, or heart problems. Individuals with nerve or spine conditions should also avoid lidocaine.

Individuals who do not suffer from any of the conditions above may still need to avoid receiving a lidocaine injection. Anyone taking medications, either prescription or over the counter, that may alter alertness should avoid this medication. This includes other anesthetics, vasopressor medications, beta-blockers, muscle relaxants, antihistamines, psychiatric drugs, anti-anxiety medications, and anti-seizure medicine. Specific prescription medications to avoid combining with lidocaine include arbutamine, pimozide, dofetilide, and halofantrine.

An overdose of lidocaine can be fatal. The most common way someone receives too much lidocaine is by mistakenly receiving an intravenous dose rather than a subcutaneous, or under the skin, dose. Another problem that can lead to lidocaine toxicity is prolonged exposure to lidocaine, such as during extensive cosmetic surgery procedures.

Some individuals are insensitive to lidocaine. For some, a genetic condition causes insensitivity to lidocaine. Other individuals find pain relief from lidocaine injections, however, when used during dental procedures they do not get relief because of odd placement of nerves through the mouth.


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