Postherpetic Neuralgia (Shingles)
Postherpetic Neuralgia – An Overview
The varicella-zoster virus causes a skin infection called shingles – chickenpox is also caused by this virus. However, once cured of chickenpox, the virus is not removed from the body. The virus might lie in your nerve surroundings in a dormant manner only to appear later anytime your immune system weakens. Shingles are also called herpes zoster and cause rashes and burning blisters on the skin.
Postherpetic Neuralgia occurs when the pain and burning persist even after the shingles blisters are cured. This effect is not uncommon and affects many people who have suffered shingles – around 25% of people.
What causes Postherpetic Neuralgia?
The varicella-zoster causes chickenpox in a person. After the chickenpox is over, the virus remains in your body in the nerves – in fact, it never goes away. Sometimes, the virus gets reactivated due to the weakening of the immune system and causes rashes and burning blisters on the skin called shingles.
These shingles can degrade, or damage, the nerves causing the pain signal to be transmitted in a garbled manner. Since the nerves are unable to send proper signals from the skin to the brain, pain is experienced.
Symptoms of Neuralgia
Typically symptoms of Postherpetic Neuralgia are:
Severe pain that can last for months at the site where shingles existed.
The burning sensation can be triggered by touch.
Skin becomes sensitive to touch, pressure, and temperature.
It must be noted that neuralgia is observed in individuals that have suffered from shingles before. A person’s age also plays a major role in this condition; there are high chances of neuralgia in old-age people (greater than 50 years). It is observed that women are more prone to this disorder than men.
Treatment for Postherpetic Neuralgia
There is no fixed medicine for postherpetic neuralgia, therefore, the doctors at Dunes Pain Clinic use a combination of various medicines in curing this disorder. Surgical procedures are not applicable to this ailment, and so a person has to rely on drugs. Since the pain is extremely severe you might be prescribed:
Painkillers: OTC or over the counter painkillers also called NAIDs like ibuprofen, aspirin, and naproxen.
Anticonvulsants: Used for epileptic seizures, these drugs like gabapentin and phenytoin can be used for postherpetic neuralgia.
Antidepressants: Desipramine and Imipramine can be prescribed by the doctor. Though these are anti-depressants but can be used to treat postherpetic neuralgia.
Antihistamines: If there is itching at the spot.
Numbing creams like lidocaine.
An amalgamation of drugs and injections can also be used.
Call experts at Dunes Pain for your shingles pain!