Having to deal with a case of shingles is painful enough, and depending on your age, what your vaccine history is like, and whether or not you’ve had chickenpox, the likelihood of you experiencing it is pretty good. However, when it comes to shingles, people often get more than they expect.
When it a person has shingles, it will usually on affect a small section on one side of the body, but if it does, those symptoms include sensitivity to touch; pain, burning, numbness or tingling; a red rash; blisters; and itching, while some people also report fever, headache, fatigue and a sensitivity to light. Sounds pretty unpleasant, doesn’t it? Well, it is, however, when the rash goes away and you think the worst is behind you, for an unlucky percentage of shingles sufferers, the pain and discomfort don’t end there.
Known as post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN), it is a chronic pain syndrome that roughly 30 to 60 percent of shingles sufferers over 60 get. Sadly, however, it is still a relatively mysterious condition to us. Mainly, doctors and scientists are still not exactly certain as to why some people suffer from PHN and others do not. However, there is help available.
For example, early treatment for shingles has been shown to come with a lowered chance of getting PHN, but it should be noted that whenever you are talking about shingles, the virus can never be removed from the nerves. And while the aforementioned is a preventative step you can take, there are also treatment options available for PHN.
Intercostal Nerve Blocks – This option is a local anesthetic, and is usually injected in between two ribs in order to relieve some of the pain and discomfort.
Thoracic Epidural Injections – An anti-inflammatory medications that are injected into the space in and around the spinal cord (like when you have a baby) that is engineers to reduce pain and decrease root inflammation of the nerve.
Tricyclic Antidepressants – Although it is something we don’t often think about, it is common practice for certain medications that were originally designed to do one thing to be used for another, often with the same or greater efficiency. In this case, certain medications such as amitriptyline can be used to relieve shingles related pain.
Capsaicin Cream – A topical cream that can be applied to the shingle affected area of your body while providing a temporary relief from pain.
Membrane Stabilizers – This type of medication include gabapentin and can successfully be used to reduce pain associated with PHN.