Lidocaine vs. Pamelor

Head-to-head comparisons of medication uses, side effects, ratings, and more.

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Treats nerve pain. Lidoderm (Lidocaine) patches work well by releasing a local anesthetic into the skin and relieving pain by targeting damaged nerves.Improves your mood. Pamelor (Nortriptyline) is a good option for treating depression, especially for people who also have problems with persistent nerve pain.
How it works
Lidoderm (Lidocaine) is a local anesthetic. It absorbs into your skin where it targets damaged nerves and relieves burning pain.Pamelor (Nortriptyline) is a tricyclic antidepressant (TCA). It helps improve your mood by altering the levels of serotonin, norepinephrine, and other similar chemicals in your brain.
Type of medication
Local anestheticPrescription only
Tricyclic antidepressant (TCA)
Prescription only
Available as
  • Cream, gel, or ointment
  • Jelly
  • Spray
  • Topical solution
  • Patch
  • Pill
  • Liquid
Used for (click to learn more)
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Reviews & ratings
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Side effects

The Lidocaine FDA package insert doesn’t have numbers about how common side effects are.

More about Lidocaine side effects »

We haven’t found good data for Pamelor side effects.

FDA side effect reports for Pamelor »
Risk factors for serious side effects
  • Use of heating pad on skin
  • Applying patch to red, irritated or broken skin
  • Leaving patch on for more than 12 hours
  • Using patch on a very large area
  • Older age and lower body weight
  • Liver disease
  • Allergy to numbing medications (local anesthetics)
  • Not disposing of Lidoderm (Lidocaine) correctly
  • Children and pets can reach medication
  • Not washing hands after touching or applying Lidoderm (Lidocaine)
  • Applying Lidoderm (Lidocaine) to warm skin
  • Covering patch with wrap or heating pad
  • History of heart problems
  • Using Lidoderm (Lidocaine) with drugs to treat irregular heartbeat
Detailed Lidoderm (Lidocaine) risks & warnings »
  • Age 24 years or younger
  • Age 65 years or older
  • Stopping Pamelor (Nortriptyline) suddenly
  • Using other medications that affect serotonin
  • History of heart disease
  • Older age
  • Electrolyte imbalance
Detailed Pamelor (Nortriptyline) risks & warnings »
Pregnancy category
No specific alcohol-related info.No specific alcohol-related info.
No specific food-related info.
  • Take it with food and/or at bedtime to decrease the potential side effects.
Kidneys and liver
No specific kidneys and liver-related info.No specific kidneys and liver-related info.
No specific sex-related info.No specific sex-related info.
No specific sleep-related info.
  • Stopping Pamelor (Nortriptyline) suddenly may cause withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, anxiety, agitation, flu-like symptoms, trouble sleeping, and dizziness. Withdrawal symptoms usually occur within 3-5 days of stopping the medication, and go away within 1-2 weeks. Work with your doctor to gradually reduce your dose.
No specific weight-related info.No specific weight-related info.
Upsides and benefits
  • Lidoderm (Lidocaine) can treat pain better for people who can't take oral pain medications due to allergies or bad side effects.
  • Has been shown to relieve nerve pain due to shingles for up to 12 hours at a time.
  • Patches can be cut into smaller pieces to best fit the areas of skin they need to be used on.
  • Helpful with treating certain types of pain, like migraines or nerve-related pain.
  • Generally well tolerated and has fewer side effects than other medicines in the same class of drugs.
Downsides and risks
  • Can cause skin irritation after using it the first time, but for most people it's mild and goes away in a few minutes or hours.
  • Used patches contain enough medicine to be dangerous to children and pets, so store and dispose of the patches in a safe place out of their reach.
  • Might not be the best choice if you've had allergic reactions to numbing medications (local anesthetics) in the past.
  • Even though only small amounts of Lidoderm (Lidocaine) are absorbed into the body through the skin, if you're taking medications that treat arrhythmias, Lidoderm (Lidocaine) can affect how they work.
  • Patches shouldn't be left on for more than 12 hours, used on very large areas of skin, or covered with a heating pad.
  • Side effects are usually manageable, but can be annoying.
  • Increases the risk of falls, especially when used in the elderly.
  • There's an increased chance of it causing heart problems, especially in people with a history of heart problems.
Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
  • Starts working with the first dose, but full effects can take longer.
  • Remove the protective lining on the patch before applying the patch to unbroken skin.
  • Leave the patch on for up to 12 hours during a 24 hour period.
  • You can cut the patches to create a custom fit for the area of skin you need to apply it to.
  • Don't place any tight wraps or heating pads over the patch while it's on.
  • Make sure not to touch your eyes after touching the patch. Always wash your hands after putting it on or taking it off.
  • Needs to be taken every day for 1 to 2 weeks to start feeling better, and for 6 to 8 weeks to see the full effect of the medication.
  • It's important to keep taking Pamelor (Nortriptyline) even when you feel your symptoms are getting better.
  • Take it with food and/or at bedtime to decrease the potential side effects.
  • Tell your doctor if you notice sudden mood changes or unusual thoughts.
  • If you decide to stop taking Pamelor (Nortriptyline), work with your doctor to slowly get off this medicine to avoid getting withdrawal symptoms.
Learn more
More about LidocaineSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
More about PamelorSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert