People who can’t go numb from local anesthetic

The people who can’t go numb at the dentist’s – BBC – Jan 1, 2017

I have had problems with local anesthetics, but not dental. I’d love to hear from other people who don’t experience the full effect of anesthetics.

Some people are resistant to local anaesthetic, meaning they must endure dental and medical procedures without such pain relief. And we’re only beginning to understand why.

To Lori Lemon, the doctors all seemed flabbergasted. She had come in to the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida, to have a lipoma – a growth of soft fatty tissue under the skin – removed from her elbow. She needed to have the area around the lump numbed for the procedure, but that was proving inexplicably difficult.

All the ways and all the different medications that they had at their disposal – none of them worked,” she says.  

She’d had this problem, local anaesthetic resistance, for as long as she could remember. The first time she remembers it coming up was decades ago at the dentists

He found a handful of stories scattered in the medical literature concerning strange cases where patients claimed local anaesthetic had no effect on them.

Alan Hakim and his colleagues at University College Hospital in London were some of the first scientists to bring these cases to light.

Hakim was helping to run a clinic for people with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), a group of very rare genetic diseases characterised by defects in connective tissue, leading to joint hypermobility, skin that bruises easily and fatigue

But Hakim found that some of these patients reported resistance to local anaesthesia. Instead of going numb, they were having to endure the pain. “It became obvious to us that it was a question we should ask every patient we see in the clinic,” recalls Hakim, who co-authored a short report about the findings in 2005.

One hypothesis is that their tissue is slightly different from non-EDS patients and that might affect how the anaesthetic is absorbed.

Local anaesthetics work by disrupting sodium channels.

These channels conduct positively charged sodium ions – and with them the feeling of pain – to nerve cells.

But there are still some questions over the nuts and bolts of this process.

Filling in the details of that mechanism might explain why some patients find certain drugs – say, articaine instead of lidocaine – work better than others.

One theory proposed for the heightened efficacy of articaine, for example, is that it is more soluble in fat (lipids) and therefore diffuses better through each nerve’s membrane.

It’s also possible that the patients’ nerves may be in slightly different places from the norm, with some evidence that dentists can overcome the problems by changing the location of the injection.

Sometimes local anaesthetic is injected into the tissue under the skin, known as infiltration, and sometimes it is injected into or next to a nerve, what’s called a nerve block.

Hakim says the work done by him and his colleagues has raised awareness among doctors and dentists that local anaesthetic resistance is a genuine problem.

But many today have never heard of it and are sceptical, when first told, that it even exists.

This goes along with the skepticism about pain in general. Because there is no proof, they have to rely on the patient’s word, and they seem more concerned about being fooled by a few than denying pain relief to many.

Some of her patients have told her that their doctor or dentist simply won’t believe them when they say “local anaesthetic doesn’t work on me”.

“I think until there’s that level of proof about it, it’s going to be very difficult to get doctors to accept it,” she says.

‘Missense mutation’

But there’s something else surprising about Lemon’s case: she has never been diagnosed with EDS. Could there be other reasons for her resistance to the anaesthetics?

They asked other members of Lemon’s family whether they experienced the same issue. It turned out that her mother and maternal half-sister shared the apparent resistance, though it wasn’t so pronounced, and yet her father did not.

The next step was to analyse the family members’ genomes. When Clendenen and his colleagues did this, they discovered a genetic defect relating to a specific sodium channel in the body, known as sodium 1.5.

The affected gene, called SCN5A, produces a protein called NaV1.5, which is a major component of this channel.

The type of mutation in question is known as a “missense” mutation, which means that one of the amino acids in the protein is different in people with this genetic quirk.

As a result, the functionality of the protein can be affected. A similar mutation means that people with sickle-cell anaemia, for example, have abnormal haemoglobin – the protein designed to carry oxygen in their blood

A chemical test, however, quickly showed that sodium 1.5 channels were present in peripheral nerves, so a genetic defect related to those channels could – in theory – inhibit anaesthetics in such areas of the body.

It’s not clear what difference is caused by having this mutation, but it could make the sodium channels more likely to remain open, allowing signals to flow to the brain, despite the application of local anaesthetic.

The anaesthetic usually inhibits the flow of sodium and therefore stops a pain signal being delivered from the nerve.

For those who have had to strain through invasive procedures at the doctor’s surgery without pain-relief, or undergo general anaesthetic just to have relatively routine dental work done, there might be fresh hope on the horizon.

“This is really important to get that out there,” says Clendenen.

People don’t believe [these patients] and it’s very frustrating. Even some of my colleagues that I’ve talked to say, ‘I don’t believe it’.

Because of my problem with local anesthetics, I’ve become very apprehensive about medical procedures. Among people with EDS, this is not uncommon, but I didn’t know that earlier in life and suffered a few terribly painful procedures.

I wrote about this in KevinMD: When impossible pain is, in fact, possible

After they inject their “foolproof” local anesthetic, what doctor would believe my complaint of pain when they know I can’t feel anything?

I’d love to hear from others who have had such issues…

I also posted articles that show a link with hypermobility, the genetic basis for this, and my own experience:

 

93 thoughts on “People who can’t go numb from local anesthetic

  1. Trent

    I appreciate you writing about this subject, personally I’ve considered creating a page about this topic before but I just get mad about several aspects of the entire situation. The first time I began researching why it fails to work for me, was just a couple of years ago. The internet simply did’nt exist, so basically I had nothing to back up what I was telling them. The only viable answer through most of my life, was just to avoid that situation at all cost. When I heard about a potential gene mutation that was expressed as red hair I was very glad that someone had finally realized that this issue is an actual thing. But I’m even more upset that it still just doesn’t concern medical professionals enough to do anything about it. People are so self centered and uncaring toward others that they actually think a patient is just lying. Why?? Why on earth would anyone lie about feeling pain even after receiving an injection that is supposed to help. What would I ever have to gain out of it? I’m not looking for sympathy, what I really want is for no other individual to ever have to go through the things I have been through. Now, at my current age and the issues I’m having with Chronic pain, this entire event is occurring again. No matter the pain level I am currently experiencing, the medical field suddenly won’t help. I wish a doctor could plug in and experience what someone is going through. I don’t want anyone to suffer, but I think that it’s the only way they could begin to understand. Empathy is the best trait any human can posess, it is what makes us different from animals. This trait that should be the most highly desirable trait for a care giver to have. However, greed has taken over and empathy has been silenced. Tears of pain can no longer be seen through eyes whose focal points are locked on dollar signs.

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  2. Jax Watt

    Both my brother and I have this problem. No medical professionals believed me until 2016 when an anesthesiologist confirmed it. He said there were some research articles generated out of India about it? Even he didn’t quite believe me until after coming out of a second surgery screaming in pain for a second time because the locals they used on the site of each incision wasn’t numb like they were supposed to be. He said, however, that its hard to fake something like that level of pain when you’re still half knocked out from anaesthesia.
    I get sick of being treated like a liar. One nurse treated me like a drug seeker when I asked for a second iceblock after a dental surgery! Her insistant beleif that I was faking turning into behaviour that led to her supervisor asking her to leave the room. Because the nurse had never heard of such a thing, It must not be true!
    I hate that there is no name so I cant just tell medical professionals that I have …… and have these people I entrust my health to believe me and understand what that means. I wish medical professionals believed me when I say I’m not pretending and that the locals really don’t work. During a normal dental procedure everything feels numb but the moment painful stuff starts happening I feel it, even if the superficial skin still feels numb. When I had to have a central line put into my neck, the doctors didnt beleive me and I am still traumatised by that experience. You dont know pain until you have someone cutting into your neck with a scalpel while you are fully conscious and everyone saying they don’t believe you- that the local’s aren’t working. I no longer go to the dentist. Lets not discuss what that means for the future of my teeth. At least Im not tortured and treated like a liar.

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    1. Heather Hooper

      I was diagnosed with borderline pd (possibly mistakenly) 8 years ago. Nobody medical believes me about anything anymore. I’m just being manipulative. ARGH.

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      1. Zyp Czyk Post author

        That’s outrageous, but also totally in the spirit of the times. Having that kind of diagnosis in your medical chart for all subsequent doctors to see allows them to invalidate all your symptoms, whether BPD is related to your current condition or not. I would be furious too.

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  3. Jo Anne

    I have SUFFERED with this for 72 years now. My mother head the same problem. I recently have been diagnosed with breast cancer. I have gone through two biopsies, and have had wires shoved into the affected breast. Two different locals were used. I handled the pain by using the deep breathing exercises I have used for pain. It doesn’t stop the pain, it just gives me something else to try and focus on.
    PLEASE, help the people dealing with this. It’s painful enough to get a cancer diagnosis, there shouldn’t be added pain.

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    1. Zyp Czyk Post author

      I’m shocked to hear this. I assumed that there were other alternatives that would work for us. In my case, at least dental numbing works if they use a little extra. If I ever need local anesthesia again, I’ll try asking for whatever it is that dentists use.

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  4. Em H

    I have a relative resistance to local anesthetics. It isn’t that they don’t work at all; they just don’t work well enough. Looking back, I can identify the occasion when this first became evident. 57 years ago, when I was a freshman at university, I had a single wisdom tooth extracted in a dental office, which took 2 1/2 hours and 10 injections of local anesthetic (that I counted; maybe I missed some). The left side of my face was swollen after the procedure as if I had a baseball inside my cheek and the skin turn black and blue then the usual stages of green and yellow. I must have been pale and the dentist concerned because he tipped me upside down in the dental chair and drove me home himself. I felt fine after the pain of the procedure was over, and went out and got my hair cut. For the second wisdom tooth extraction, I went to an oral surgeon and had general anesthesia,
    I was singing in a chorus with a director who emphasized opening the mouth wide =3 fingers. I could not do that after the first extraction.

    In subsequent years, a pattern emerge:d: when I had local anesthesia for any procedure, not just dental, this was the drill: they would inject the usual amount, then wait a short time, then poke all around the supposedly numbed area asking “does it hurt here?” …”here”‘…”here”; my replies were “yes…yes..yes'” Then the practitioner would frown and say “hmm” and inject a whole bunch more anesthetic. And of course each injection was painful.

    Didn’t matter whether I told them of this issue beforehand; their approach was the same. I ended up staying with the same dentist for 20 years because she dd not hurt me. I don’t think I get very good dental care with that dentist, and eventually left for that reason.

    Then I decided to try a university dental clinic, on the theory that university medical centers are usually interested in unusual problems, and there would be somebody there who would be interested in working with me for a solution. Not so. Nobody was interested , Eventually when I tried to bring up the subject again, they brought in the psychiatric nurse practitioner (!), who tried to convince me that this was all in my head (It is- my teeth are in my head).

    After that, I thought it was too risky to raise the subject again.even though I had found internet threads on the subject and knew that this is a “thing” – a physiological variant.
    I just continue to be amazed that this isn’t taught in dental or medical schools and that people
    have to suffer as a result.

    I finally screwed up my courage and talked with mu current dentist about this, and it turns out her husband has red hair and also local anesthetic resistance. )they can go together) But I hae to change dentists now due to finances. So we’ll see.

    I do not have red hair and I do not have Ehlers-Danlos or any of its symptoms. Neither do any of my relatives.

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    1. Zyp Czyk Post author

      All this illustrates how important it is to treat each patient as an individual and pay attention to what they’re saying – instead of treating them according to misapplied population statistics.

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  5. Ginny

    I have had local anaesthetic twice that didn’t work properly. When I was 8 I got my knee stitched up and felt everything with only a little bit of numb feeling. I thought it was because he didn’t wait for it to take affect. Last year I gave birth to my son and had to get stitches and once again I felt everything. I spent 1 and half hours getting stitches and that’s when I realised that the earlier experience wasn’t gonna make a difference if he had waited. What really helped with the pain was afterwards when I got a depository.

    The weird thing is that it might have once worked on me. When I was younger at the dentist I remember getting local anaesthetic but I don’t remember if it worked on me or not. It could have or it was just one of those times where the placebo effect worked.

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  6. Jamey Peltonen

    I had ercp and was consciously sedated I was knocked out for a short time then woke up to rip the tube out thank god I didn’t kill myself, yesterday I had a brain angiogram and was suppose to be twilight sedated Scary the more medicine they gave me the more aggravated I got, when he was putting camera in the artery in my groin I almost flipped out the pain was unbearable I became combative complaining it hurts I can feel that what are you doing to me when I grabbed his hand and leaned up during procedure he didn’t have much to say but I try to calm myself during most hospital dental procedures but he went across the room and was talking about me not to me and I remember saying what the fuck are you doing I’m over here What’s going on I got appointment today at Gundersen in Lacrosse with my primary care doctor I haven’t felt well for last 2 years so I’ve been being passed from dr to dr I have thyroid problems Hashimotos since I was 16 they always blamed everything in this when I was 20 my body glitched and I went to er in my smaller town 5 times and they didn’t help me ended up with emergency surgery for gall stones my body released 100s of stones all over had many sedation procedures I’m more like sleeping for a minute then combative.when the doctor said I need another ercp I said I’m gonna die if you do that like my body knew that if I wasn’t all the way sedated I would have heart attack at 20 scary now that I haven’t been feeling good again I’m running outta organs for my body to attack I’ve been to numerous doctors the rheumatologist I seen at Gundersen in Lacrosse weren’t helpful they didn’t even listen to me I feel defeated 😕 but I’m worried if someone doesn’t help me figure out what’s going on soon I’m not going to be around long. They say I’m Depressed and should take pills and now are making it like I’m crazy 😜 Is this because they don’t know or care to learn or help me figure it out had coloscopy done and edg to check for blockages because I could poop 💩 the dr was a traveling doctor he is he only one that seemed to care or help because I don’t have the best insurance he woke me up and said it’s a genetic problem and recommended anyone I’m related to to get this done because I had blockage which he removed but he couldn’t preform the edg because my body wouldn’t tolerate the scope so I had to go under general anesthesia to dialate my esphogus because it has rings that choke me make it hard to swallow I get stabbing pains while eating etc But are they not helping me because they don’t know or because I have crappy insurance?!? I have kids my daughter is 6 I want to live if anyone has any suggestions or good doctors I would like the information please I have growth on my adrenal gland a nodule on thyroid and a brain lesion has recently bleed but this seems of no concern to them my neurosurgeon was nice but short and said it’s fine we’ll in August I quit my job because I was unable to see a few times and it was scary my symptoms are only getting worse I’m a bitch sometimes but I’m not crazy or any crazier then anyone else I’m defeated and would like answers not pills that cause more symptoms until I know what’s going on

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    1. Zyp Czyk Post author

      What a nightmare you’re living! Being resistant to local anesthetics sure sounds like EDS, but your other symptoms don’t.

      Perhaps you have an autoimmune disease, like Lupus (though you don’t really seem to fit that either), that’s attacking your organs. I think it could be diagnosed at a University teaching hospital. It was Stanford University where I got my EDS diagnosis, but I’m not sure which medical school might be close to you. Where are you located?

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      1. Jamey Peltonen

        I live in Wisconsin I’m at Lacrosse Gundersen rn getting my results from brain angiogram I thought Eds has multiple platforms, the first question when I brought it up was are you overly flexible that’s not the only symptom of the disease. I’m not sure where I’m headed next to a different neurologist or what I will find out shortly I guess thx for your help

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        1. Zyp Czyk Post author

          Especially when we’re not young anymore, flexibility may not be so obvious. It was a neurologist way back in the 90’s that first suggested I might have EDS just because my pains seemed to wander around through my body. One would get better and then something else would start hurting. He was a wonderful and brilliant doctor who is now retired – and I was incredibly lucky to find another good one to see me through the next years.

          Good luck!

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  7. Karen Harris

    I have had at least 5 instances where locals didn’t work. Once I crushed my finger in a door. I hate needles and had to get them to numb the area so they could see me back together. Well, it didn’t work, and they said I was lying. Yeah lady, I want MORE NEEDLES. It also happened at the dentist, after a baby, and with a skin infection. And I thought I was nuts.

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    1. Zyp Czyk Post author

      Well now you have proof that they were the nuts, not you. It makes me see red when a doctor flat out doesn’t believe their patient, when the patient is the only one who is actually feeling the pain. When the “healer” won’t believe us about what we feel, they are no longer healers but rather butchers.

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  8. Laura

    Today I had a breast biopsy.
    The doctor used lidocaine.
    Unbelievably, I felt all three shots injected, the EIGHT tissue samples, and the flushing of the cavity. It was the worst pain of my life and it took hours for me to calm down, and an hour to keep from passing out.
    The doctor kept saying, “I’m sorry you feel uncomfortable” over and over. Yet this was beyond that, I felt her cutting tissue from deep within my breast.
    I’m still baffled, angry, and in so much pain.
    Thank you for this article.

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    1. Zyp Czyk Post author

      What a horrible nightmare experience! I cringed just reading about it. I sure hope you can tell them you need a different local anesthetic for any more procedures.

      Dental anesthetic does work for me, so there is some hope that others might work for you too.

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  9. Gerald

    I’ve recently been diagnosed with Hidradenitis Suppurativa, a chronic skin condition where local inflammation causes painful lumps/abscesses, and subdermal tunnels of infection under the skin, typically in the armpit and groin. Basically, imagine the biggest, angriest and infected lump you can in your tenderest bits. It sucks. Especially when you have to convince a new doctor every visit that it’s not an ingrown hair.

    Normally they resolve on their own but when they get infected (as they have the last two times I’ve gotten them) I have to go to my Primary care to have them lanced and drained.

    About a month ago I had one in my armpit that was pretty bad. Got past the initial examination and moved to surgery suite. The doc explained he would inject the area with Lidocaine, wait a minute or so, lance the lump, remove any infected tissue and pack the wound.

    “You shouldn’t feel any pain, just pressure.”

    When the needle was injected I had to force myself not to jerk away from it. About a minute later he picks up his scalpel to get to work. As the scalpel cut into my skin I thought “Oh damn! That really hurts. Did the Lidocaine not spread far enough?” I had to grit my teeth and power through it. Scalpel down, and out come the next tool. I don’t remember what it was (forceps, tweezers, hot poker), but whatever it was it hurt like hell as he scraped away the infected tissue. Forehead sweating, teeth clenched and my legs went so rigid I thought my knees would break.

    “Ouch. Doc, did you lose something? Because whatever it is, I promise it’s not in the hole in my armpit.”

    He grumbled that I shouldn’t be feeling anything but pressure. I know the difference between pressure and metal cutting into already inflamed skin. He finished up, and sent me home with pain meds and antibiotics. I finished my run of antibiotics and was back to normal. For a month.

    Fast forward to today. Back I go for yet another infected lump, this time in my groin in the groove between my thigh and scrotum. I was absolutely DREADING that damn Lidocaine shot. When he jabbed the needle in I thought I was going to shoot off the table and kick him as hard as I could. I actually managed to grunt and hiss at the same time.

    Two minutes later he starts pushing on the lump. I yelped. Another shot of Lidocaine. Push, grunt. Shot. Push, grunt. Shot. All told, I ended up with 5 injections to the area. It numbed barely at that point. But the second he cut into the lump it was like he had never injected anything. My feet and back arched, my legs went rigid, and I slap-snatched the head rest of the table so hard it sounded like a gun shot. And I yelped like a wounded animal. That was not just pressure. That was the most intense, sharp pain I can remember. I actually asked the medical assistant, “Are there people out there that Lidocaine doesn’t work on?”

    “Nope.”

    Great. Then seeing as this is a chronic issue with no cure, I’ll be dealing with the shortcomings of local anesthetic for who knows how long.

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    1. Zyp Czyk Post author

      Wow, your story sounds just like mine. Like you, it was a long time before I learned local anesthetic can be completely ineffectual for some of us.

      I haven’t needed a local for anything in the last decades, but if I’m ever facing such a situation again, I’ll demand they use something else – maybe a different kind of injected drug or even something to half knock me out, like Versed.

      I’m going to negotiate my anesthetic in advance too and not wait until I’m in the office. I’ll probably send the doctor a couple of these reference pages so they know I’m not making it up. Heck, they can even research it themselves!

      And if they don’t believe me, I will not let them treat me again because there’s no way to get good medical care from a doctor that doesn’t believe me.

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  10. Heather Hooper

    I’ve never had a cavity, but gum disease (and the resultant deep cleaning under ‘cain) have been horrendous. I just assumed that they were correct when they told me that I was a very anxious patient. I’ve had 4 surgeries, but they were all major enough to be done under general, so no clues there. At 41, I had 2 growths on my tongue removed. He gave me 2 shots and it did nothing – he started to cut and I screamed. Two more shots, same deal. 4 more shots and I was numb, but 10 minutes later I began to feel what he was doing again. He was incredulous. I refused to let him continue until he shot me up some more. Afterwards they told me that the anaesthetic should last until the next morning, and to take paracetamol if I began feeling pain. Hah!! Half an hour later I was in agony. A few hours after that I gave in and took some oramorph (I’m a chronic pain patient, and have it for serious flares). Blessed release. I was in pretty bad pain for several days, though. I kept thinking how weird it was that the anaesthetic didn’t seem to work at normal doses or last very long, but I just assumed that my central sensitization must be the culprit (probably explains why I felt such severe pain, but not the anaesthesia stuff).

    Then, about a year ago, a friend with H-EDS told me about her complete immunity to local anaesthesia, and the pin dropped. (I’m not diagnosed, but I’m definitely HJS or H-EDS.) My whole life I had assumed that locals only helped a bit with pain for a very short time; I had no idea that you were supposed to feel nothing at all! Thinking back, it explains a lot.

    I’ve had my knees drained 15-20 times due to Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis and Lyme Arthritis, starting at age 3. Despite local injections, it was always agonising. I actually kicked a doctor in the face and broke his nose at ~4yo (my Mum was horrified), but eventually I just gave in and let it happen. Stitches, the usual bits and bobs as a kid, and some exciting treatments for arthritis were torture, but I lay still while crying silent tears – I wanted to be a good girl.

    In my 20’s, the removal of an infected section of toe in Italy caused a nurse to hug me because of the obvious pain – my Italian wasn’t up to saying, “I can feel that!”. Insertion and removal of birth control rods in my arms in my 30’s resulted in shaking and sweating through my shirt each time, which my gyno rolled her eyes at (she was horrid).

    After my chronic pain began at 33, I had a variety of procedures under local, including an epidural, 2 sets of 8 facet joint injections in my spine, and a 25-minute radiofrequency denervation around my L5/S1 disc. They gave me medazolam, but I felt every second. The sensation of a spinal nerve being cooked until it dies is something I never wish to feel again.

    The last time I had a procedure I refused to have it done without sedation. The docs assumed it was anxiety, as did I, but now I know differently…

    At this point, having acquired PTSD through other means, I just can’t handle any procedure I’ll be awake for. Haven’t been to the dentist in years… At least I understand it!

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    1. Zyp Czyk Post author

      What awful experiences you’ve had – like medieval torture! Now that I understand the problem, I’ll “just say no” to a painful procedure with only local anesthetic.

      I notice you also had an experience of profusely sweating from intense pain, just like I did when I forced myself to tolerate a massage therapist trying to “knead out” a deep spasm in my piriformis muscle. I haven’t heard anyone else mention such a reaction.

      Luckily, I do respond to dental anesthetic these days – otherwise I could never have tolerated the root canals I needed (from constantly gritting my teeth in pain so much that I broke them).

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      1. Heather Hooper

        Thanks for your reply! I suppose it’s a bithorrifying, but since I didn’t know any better, somehow it seems less so to me. Dunno why. :) It’s funny, since developing my chronic back pain, old episodes of acute pain seem… Unimportant. However, if I had to have another spinal injection I’d be demanding a written letter promising adequate pain relief. ;)

        I’m sorry you’ve had to go through so much, too!

        Yeah, sweating! It happens when I feel sudden severe pain (8 or above), sudden severe anxiety, or if I get really nauseous. Apparently it’s a “fight-or-flight” thing, which makes sense, as I have C-PTSD.

        Nowadays I’m in perimenopause, and constantly dashing outside. ;) Very entertaining, apparently. ;)

        A pain sweat like that can indicate that you’re going into shock, so if it happens again, find company, just in case. ;)

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  11. Nicole

    Hello, I was googling about resistance to local anesthetics and why. I was curious to find out if there was any info on this topic. I recently went to the dentist and was given A LOT of local anaesthetic and it did absolutely nothing and the dentist was very surprised. I’ve had this issue with other local anaesthetics, c section where I had to be put to sleep because I could feel them layering my skin open, and had 2 epidurals prior to my spinal Tap. It’s really frustrating and I wonder if there is a legitimate reason why this happens.

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    1. Zyp Czyk Post author

      Well, yes, this IS the “legitimate reason” it happens – it’s related to the same genetic anomaly that causes EDS.

      The important thing to know is that it’s not just your imagination, it’s a *physical* reality. The next time you need a procedure with local anesthetic, prepare to inform your doctors ahead of time and bring a print out of this article with you.

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  12. Ellen

    Inn recent years I’ve had issues at the dentist going numb. I’ve had two cavities redone while feeling everything. This was after 8 diff shots of anesthetic. I had a medical procedure done last week where they had to cut a cyst open and drain it and after 3 shots of Lidocaine and zidocain I still felt everything . I’m just starting my research to figure this out as it’s not always been the case but started maybe 7 years ago and got worse after having kids.

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    1. Zyp Czyk Post author

      It’s interesting that it developed over time – I suppose some genes might be activated later in life. I’m lucky that modern dental anesthetic works for me (it didn’t 30 years ago), but I’m definitely resistant to whatever they use for local numbing, like that getting stitches.

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  13. M.Triplett

    I can definitely empathize with y’all, as none of the
    ” Cain ” drugs work on me. When I was about 14, a dentist shot 7 needles full of a ” cain” type medicine into my mouth TRYING to numb the area around a tooth that was to be pulled and the dentist never accomplished numbing of my mouth. Later in my life, I noticed that minor
    Surgeries such as the lancing of a boil were not numbed , at all, following injections of one of the
    ” cain ” type drugs.
    I am much older now, and have had one really painful and scary cataract surgery on my right eye. I had already had the left eye done, and I told the the nice anesthesiologist that the gains had no effect on me, so he doubled up the amount he used. On the next cataract surgery, I had the same anesthesiologist as on the first surgery, but the head anesthesiologist at that hospital saw that I have severe asthma and told the anesthesiologist working on me to give me only the normally used amount of the pain meds on me. The result? I totally was aware of all that was being done during the surgery and felt and heard every iota of the various stages of the surgery. I know it wasn’t the surgeon’s fault, but I actually felt the surgeon digging around in my eye and pulling one of the arms ( one arm of the implant failed to unfold properly and went into my iris ) on the implant OUT OF my iris. All I can say is that I hope n pray that no-one else ever ha s to experience that ! ! !
    My.most current experience with non-working
    ” Cain ” meds involved my twice a year shots under my kneecaps. Once again, the meds simply had no effect on my knee pain while the orthopaedic was injecting Synvisc under my kneecaps. I told the surgeon that the ” cain ” meds have no effect on me , (he did not believe me when I told him that the cain type drugs have no effect on me), and
    proceeded giving the Synvisc shot as if the pain shot was working . I believe that I nearly broke his eardrums when I screamed from the pain.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Zyp Czyk Post author

      A gruesome story indeed! Next time you need a local anesthetic, you can show your doctor this article so they know it’s not just you being “sensitive”.

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  14. Stephen Powell

    I have also been told I’m a hypercondriac, I first encountered this issue as a young child when I had stitches. They couldn’t understand why I was screaming in such pain. A few months ago I was admitted to hospital and the consultant requested a lumbar puncture. I decided to go ahead with the procedure and after injecting twice the normal amount of local anaesthetic I notified the doctors I could still feel every movement. I agree to let them attempt the procedure and as soon as the needle was Inserted I was in agony, crying my eyes out and shaking. The doctor reluctantly stopped the procedure and simply said I was overreacting and he could guarantee I wasn’t in any paid! The next day they wanted to try and attemp the procedure again and I refused. Eventually a consultant anesthatist came and saw me and did patch tests all over my arm with different drugs and was amazed that I would feel every single one! Some were slightly better than others but none of them were totally effective. He wrote on my medical notes that all procedures were to now be done under general, when it came to requesting another lumber puncture under general the consultant said it was ridiculous and refused the request. I’m now completely change confused with what’s going on.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Zyp Czyk Post author

      The consultant clearly doesn’t believe that his procedure is painful. He thinks that even without anesthetic, it shouldn’t hurt much. He’s clearly not been on the other end of the needle. His attitude of “guaranteeing” that you’re not in pain is because he doesn’t really believe it’s painful.

      He thinks he knows this better than you yourself do. Doctors like that terrify me – they don’t accept our feedback and just do what they “know” is right.

      I’ve never heard of the patch test for anesthetic, but what a great idea!

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  15. peter

    I can sympathize with those that have NEVER had relief from a local anaesthetic, as it appears to be for all of the above contributors. for me, sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. so I was wondering if this was the case with others.

    after administering an anaesthetic to me, i’m shocked when a surgeon says “Can you feel this?” as he drags the scalpel across the skin to be cut, and i say “Yes”, and he cuts anyway. and then he shoves a needle into the incision, thinking that might help relieve the pain. but, NO, it doesn’t. I suspect that if it was his mother on the table, his hearing might be a little more astute.

    as a child, I endured some pretty horrific dental work, and got no advice on how to take care of my teeth. i’ve been paying for it in pain for many years. (nothing compared to what I’ve read above). I’ve had 2 dentists that were painless. but over the past 20 years, I’ve had to remind my dentist EVERY TIME i’m getting an anaesthetic that one shot will not likely work, and i may need 2 or 3 shots, and that may not work. they act like they’ve never heard of such a thing. like today. it didn’t work again. so you grab the arm rests of the dental chair, and “grin and bear it”.

    great forum. thought i was crazy until I read it. thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Zyp Czyk Post author

      It’s a strange experience to have your reality denied. You say it hurts, they say “that’s impossible” and continue hurting you.

      Its truly crazy-making and, judging from so many responses from the tiny sample of folks that read this, there must be quite a few of us. Of course, this “detail” won’t be mentioned in med school, but the real problem is doctors refusing to believe what their patients tell them.

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  16. Pingback: 6 Health Problems with EDS | EDS and Chronic Pain News & Info

  17. Michaela

    I have a hard time with this. Both lidocaine and Novocaine have little to no effect on me. It’s very frustrating. I have been told different reasons by different doctors. Some say it’s my chemistry some say it’s genetics some say I have extra nerve endings. I’m trying to learn more about this because there has to be a better way for medical procedures for people like me. Unfortunately there’s not much information.

    Liked by 1 person

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  18. John

    You know, growing up my dentist never believed me that I felt every thing and insisted I was being a baby about vibration and honestly I missed a lot of dental care I needed as an adult. I finally found a dentist that believed me when the anesthetic wore off and would shoot more in then come back. He said he heard anecdotal evidence of it with people with red hair like me but I was the first he saw in person. I have woken up during surgeries. I can remember hearing “Oh $hit, he is awake” then being out again. Today I had lidocaine injected into my shoulder with a steriod. The PA said I would feel no pain by the time I got to the parking lot. It never stoped hurting, actualy hurt more (I assume because of the extra fluid). I don’t take oxycodone or hydrocodone when it is prescribed to be because they have no effect other than the first dose just to see if by some miracle they started working (nope). Beer helps me stop caring about the pain though.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Zyp Czyk Post author

      It seems you’re resistant to far more than local anesthetics: surgical anesthesia and opioid pain medication are very different molecules and have a completely different mechanism of action. You’re the first person I’ve heard of who has resistance to both.

      Luckily, it seems as if you can get some effect if they give you a larger or more frequent dose. Oral opioids are tiny doses compared to what’s used in surgery so it’s no wonder they don’t work for you. Additionally, it’s highly likely that you were given far too low of a dose, which can actually be less effective than Tylenol. This is how they generate so many studies saying that Tylenol is better than opioids: they use the maximum dose of Tylenol compared to the smallest doses of opioid medication.

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  19. Crystal

    So, I just had my first surgery 2days back. I was injected with anaesthetic and I hoped not to feel anything like the doctor said. Unfortunately I did, I informed the doctor at the beginning of the procedure and he told me it was not possible. I thought I had a high threshold for pain but what I experienced is not something that’s be forgotten anytime soon. I was giving various injections to knock me out but I guess my body was immune to that too. I think I’m having PTSD from the whole experience. I close my eyes and I can still feel the scalpel slicing into my skin. I’m just glad I found this article and people that relate to this. Thanks for this.
    P.S my genotype is SC

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Zyp Czyk Post author

      Yes, it’s such a relief to find validation for our pain when we’ve been told it’s impossible, which creates trauma in addition to our pain. I, too, think I have PTSD from it and it’s made me leery of doctors using sharp objects, even needles, on me.

      It wasn’t until years later that I learned not everybody could feel the wound-stitching needle pierce the skin and then pull the thread through. Ugh. But isn’t it great to discover you’re not just an “over sensitive sissy?”

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