Nerve Pain – Post-Herpetic Neuralgia


Post-Herpetic Neuralgia Symptoms

Post-herpetic neuralgia is a painful condition that persists after a shingles episode is over. Sharp and shooting pain occurs in the same area as that of the pain and rash of shingles and results from the damage to nerve fibres during the shingles infection.

Post-herpetic neuralgia is not generally considered life threatening, though the condition can lead to insomnia, weight loss, depression and even disability in some cases. Patients may also become hypersensitive to very light touch or pressure on the skin, such as when touched by hand, a piece of cloth or even a light breeze.

According to studies, one of every five patients with shingles or herpes zoster is inflicted with an episode of post-herpetic neuralgia. Adults above the age of 50 and especially those who are in the immunocompromised state are at a greater risk of developing the condition.

Research reveals that among those over the age of 55, one in every four will develop post-herpetic neuralgia. In those above 70, 3 out of every four persons are likely to be inflicted. Overall, roughly 20 percent of those diagnosed with shingles usually develop an episode of the condition.


Post-Herpetic Neuralgia Causes

Post-herpetic neuralgia presents itself as the manifestation of the virus varicella, the same virus that causes chicken pox. It may lie dormant in the body after an episode of chickenpox and present itself a number of years later.

Post-herpetic neuralgia is primarily the result of nerve fibers that are damaged during a case of shingles. Since damaged fibers are unable to send messages from the skin to the brain, the messages become confused and exaggerated. This in turn causes chronic and severe pain that lasts for months or even years in the area where shingles first developed.


Post-Herpetic Neuralgia Treatment

Prescribed medication is usually the first recommended treatment plan for dealing with the painful symptoms of post-herpetic neuralgia. These include anti-neuropathic medication, such as antidepressants, anticonvulsants and opioids.

Qutenza® (high concentration capsaicin) patches can relieve pain in the area for up to 12 weeks. They are administered by the doctor or nurse in an outpatient procedure at the clinic which can take around an hour and a half.

Two more advanced but non-intrusive procedures have recently been adopted in the treatment of the condition. Studies have shown that Botox injections and Peripheral Electrical Nerve Stimulation can be very effective longer-term treatments.