SHINGLES/POST HERPETIC NEURALGIA
Post Herpetic neuralgia (PHN) is a very painful condition that affects the nerve fibers of the skin as a complication of shingles which are a complication of chickenpox. The post herpetic neuralgia tends to develop when an irritation or damage to the nerves and alters its neurological structure and function.
The sensation may be intense burning or stabbing and it may feel like a shooting pain along the affected nerve. The nerve sends the pain messages because it is either faulty or irritated.
The virus called varicella zoster causes both chickenpox and shingles. In post herpetic neuralgia the virus causes inflammation of the nerves under the skin of the affected area. It is not clear why some people will develop post herpetic neuralgia after shingles. It is estimated that about 1 in 5 patients with shingles will go on to have PHN. Older people are particularly at risk.
The main symptom of Shingles/ Post herpetic neuralgia is continuous nerve pain in the area that was previously affected by shingles.
The pain usually is described as:
- Throbbing or like electric shocks.
The affected area may also feel intensely itchy and be more sensitive to pain than usual.
The treatment for Shingles/ Post Herpetic Neuralgia depends on the type of pain and the patient’s physical, neurological, and mental health.
Most common treatments include:
- Medications as painkillers, anticonvulsants and antidepressants
- Steroid injections
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
- Intercostal Nerve Blocks