Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful rash and is the result of the varicella-zoster virus — the same virus that causes the chickenpox. This virus can remain dormant in the body’s nerve cells after childhood and reactivate years later into shingles. When the pain caused by shingles doesn’t go away after the rash clears up, the condition is called post-herpetic neuralgia. Post-herpetic neuralgia is the most common complication of shingles that affects the nerves and skin, causing severe pain that can last for months or even years.
Post-herpetic neuralgia only occurs in people who already have had shingles. Signs and symptoms of post-herpetic neuralgia include:
- Burning sensation on the skin
- Severe pain that persists one to three months after the shingles rash has healed
- Sensitivity to touch or temperature changes
- Itching and numbness
Once the person has had chickenpox, the virus remains dormant in the body’s nerve cells for the rest of their life. As one ages or if their immune system is suppressed, the virus can reactivate, causing shingles.
Post-herpetic neuralgia occurs if the nerve fibers are damaged during an outbreak of the shingles virus. The damaged nerves are then unable to send messages from the skin to the brain, causing the messages to become confused and exaggerated, resulting in chronic, severe pain.
Risk factors for developing post-herpetic neuralgia include:
- Severity of shingles
- Other illness
- Shingles location
There are numerous treatment options for post-herpetic neuralgia. These include:
We understand that each patient’s pain is unique. Therefore, the treatment recommended to each patient will be personalized to fit their condition and lifestyle. Our multi-disciplinary team of physicians offers advanced interventional and minimally-invasive techniques to help treat chronic, complex pain. Schedule an appointment today to discuss your concerns and what treatment options might be right for you!