Local anesthetics that can be applied topically through an adhesive patch provide a degree of comfort and ease of use that many recipients may favor over other pain-relieving methods.

Understanding How Lidocaine Patches Work

Lidocaine patches are used to target specific areas of the body that may be experiencing a burning, aching or stabbing type of pain. While the adhesive patch is worn, the skin slowly absorbs the anesthetic which prevents pain signals from being sent through the nerves and into the brain. This medication has proven effective for certain types of lower back pain, but Lidocaine patches are most often prescribed for the neuralgia that can persist after a shingles outbreak.

Your prescribing physician will advise you on how many patches should be used at one time and for how long, but it’s important to follow these instructions carefully. Typically, wearing more than three patches for longer than 12 hours in one day can result in an adverse reaction. Lidocaine patches may come in one container that should remain closed between uses since these patches can dry out and become ineffective.

Side Effects and Risks Associated with Lidocaine Patches

While it’s common to feel a tingling, mild burning sensation or notice a little redness and swelling when the patch adheres to the skin, anything that persists or becomes severe should be given immediate medical attention.

Allergic reactions to Lidocaine can include symptoms like hives, excessive swelling, gastrointestinal discomfort or difficulty breathing and swallowing. Talk to your doctor if you have had an allergic reaction to any anesthetic in the past since this may mean you are at a higher risk of an allergic reaction to Lidocaine patches.

Lidocaine patches should not be placed on broken, blistered or dirty skin. The medication can also transfer to the hands during application, so hands should be washed thoroughly once the patch is secure to avoid spreading to the eyes or mouth.

Some over-the-counter medications can increase the risk of adverse reactions when wearing a Lidocaine patch, and wearing a Lidocaine patch may interfere with certain types of surgery that require anesthesia. Health care professionals should be made aware of your use of a Lidocaine patch if you intend to take an over-the-counter medication or undergo a surgical procedure.

Medicare Coverage for Lidocaine Patches

Currently, Medicare benefits through a stand-alone Part D Prescription Drug plan or a Medicare Advantage plan that includes Part D coverage may count Lidocaine patches as a qualifying prescription when they are being used to treat shingles-related neuralgia. The private insurers who provide Part D or Medicare Advantage plans determine whether or not to include this medication on their formulary and which cost-based tier they fall under.

Policies that regulate Medicare benefits dictate that a medication must be prescribed for its FDA-approved use to be eligible for Part D prescription coverage. Using Lidocaine patches to treat other medical conditions is likely considered off-label use and therefore not accepted by the FDA to be administered for that purpose.

It may be possible to ask Medicare for an exception to this rule if your doctor is able to prove medical necessity and show that other methods of treatment would not be as effective as Lidocaine patches. If you choose to pay for this medication out of pocket, the costs are unlikely to count towards any yearly Medicare limits for medical expenses.

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