Lidocaine patches reduce pain in trauma patients with rib fractures

Karen A. Zink, John C. Mayberry, Ellen G. Peck, Martin A. Schreiber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Rib fracture pain is notoriously difficult to manage. The lidocaine patch is effective in other pain scenarios with an excellent safety profile. This study assesses the efficacy of lidocaine patches for treating rib fracture pain. A prospectively gathered cohort of patients with rib fracture was retrospectively analyzed for use of lidocaine patches. Patients treated with lidocaine patches were matched to control subjects treated without patches. Subjective pain reports and narcotic use before and after patch placement, or equivalent time points for control subjects, were gathered from the chart. All patients underwent long-term follow-up, including a McGill Pain Questionnaire (MPQ). Twenty-nine patients with lidocaine patches (LP) and 29 matched control subjects (C) were analyzed. During the 24 hours before patch placement, pain scores and narcotic use were similar (LP 5.3, C 4.6, P = 0.19 and LP 51, C 32 mg morphine, P = 0.17). In the 24 hours after patch placement, LP patients had a greater decrease in pain scores (LP 1.2, C 0.0, P = 0.01) with no change in narcotic use (LP -8.4, C 0.5-mg change in morphine, P = 0.25). At 60 days, LP patients had a lower MPQ pain score (LP 7.7, C 12.2, P < 0.01), although only one patient was still using a patch. There was no difference in time to return to baseline activity (LP 73, C 105 days, P = 0.16) and no adverse events. Lidocaine patches are a safe, effective adjunct for rib fracture pain. Lidocaine patches resulted in a sustained reduction in pain, outlasting the duration of therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)438-442
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Surgeon
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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