Lidocaine patch helps with diabetes pain

A skin patch containing the anesthetic lidocaine appears to be a useful treatment for the hand and foot pain often experienced by people with diabetes, new research suggests.

As reported in the Archives of Neurology, Dr. Richard L. Barbano, from the University of Rochester in New York, and colleagues tested the patch on 56 diabetic patients who had had nerve pain for longer than 3 months. A maximum of four patches could be given each day for a total of 18 hours. Many of the patients had allodynia, a condition in which pain is triggered by stimuli that normally aren’t painful.

During a 3-week treatment period, most of the patients experienced a dramatic reduction in pain, the authors note.

Patients also reported an improved quality of life with treatment, according to the team. Significant improvements were noted in sleep quality as well as in various psychologic measures, such as depression and anger.

Also, “these benefits were maintained in a subgroup of patients treated for an additional 5 weeks,” during which time the dose of other pain medications could be slowly decreased, the authors report. Moreover, pain relief and quality of life improvements with the patch were comparable in patients with and without allodynia.

Even when used four times a day, the patches were well tolerated without any significant side effects.

Although promising, the findings need to be confirmed in a study in which some patients are treated with the lidocaine patch, while others receive an inactive “placebo” patch, the researchers emphasize.

The study was funded by the patch’s manufacturer, Endo Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania.

SOURCE: Archives of Neurology, June 2004.

Provided by ArmMed Media
Revision date: July 9, 2011
Last revised: by Jorge P. Ribeiro, MD