Intravenous lidocaine in the treatment of refractory headache: a retrospective case series

Headache. 2009 Feb;49(2):286-91. doi: 10.1111/j.1526-4610.2008.01281.x.


Background: New treatments are needed to treat chronic daily headache (CDH) and chronic cluster headache (CCH). New treatments are needed to treat this population and intravenous (IV) lidocaine is a novel treatment for CDH.

Objective: The aim of this study was to examine the use of IV lidocaine for refractory CDH patients in an inpatient setting.

Methods: This was an open-label, retrospective, uncontrolled study of IV lidocaine for 68 intractable headache patients in an inpatient setting. We reviewed the medical records of patients receiving IV lidocaine between February 6, 2003 and June 29, 2005.

Results: Pretreatment headache scores averaged 7.9 on an 11-point scale and posttreatment scores averaged 3.9 representing an average change of 4. Average length of treatment was 8.5 days. Lidocaine infusion was generally well tolerated with a low incidence of adverse events leading to discontinuation of treatment.

Conclusions: This study suggests benefit of lidocaine treatment and the need for further prospective analyses. The mechanism of lidocaine in treating headache is unknown.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anesthetics, Local / administration & dosage*
  • Anesthetics, Local / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Headache Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Lidocaine / administration & dosage*
  • Lidocaine / adverse effects
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anesthetics, Local
  • Lidocaine