Postherpetic Neuralgia

WHAT IS POSTHERPETIC NEURALGIA?

Postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) is a nerve condition that affects skin and nerve fibers, causing a burning sensation/pain that lasts long after the blisters and rash of shingles disappear. The condition usually begins due to the damage caused to nerves by the vericella zoster virus.

 

It can also occur when herpes zoster vesicles (commonly known as shingles) begun to heal after crusting over. In its initial stages, PHN is confined to a dermatomic area of the skin, but can spread if appropriate treatment is not received.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF POSTHERPETIC NEURALGIA?

The symptoms range from mild to severe discomfort and pain, which may be described as gnawing, burning or stabbing. Itching feeling or numbness experienced in skin and nerve fibers. People with the condition also can’t bear the touch of clothing in the affected skin. Pain that usually lasts for 3 months or longer, after the shingles have healed is also a sign of postherpetic neuralgia. In rare cases, patients may also experience paralysis, weakness, or tremor if the nerves affect control muscle movement.

WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF POSTHERPETIC NEURALGIA?

Postherpetic neuralgia can be caused due to a number of reasons. Once you’ve had chickenpox, the virus remains in your body for your entire life. The virus can reactivate due to chemotherapy or other treatments and medications causing shingles, which could lead to postherpetic neuralgia. Damage to nerve fibers during an outbreak of herpes can also cause postherpetic neuralgia.

HOW IS POSTHERPETIC NEURALGIA TREATED?

Treatment varies person-by-person and on the severity of nerve pain. In many cases, it may even take a combination of different treatments to help relieve pain symptoms. This may include opioid painkillers (containing morphine, tramadol, or oxycodone), antidepressants, anticonvulsants, capsaicin skin patches, and lidocaine skin patches. In other cases, steroid injections are also used.

 

For chronic cases involving recalcitrant pain, a spinal cord stimulator may be the best option. The top pain management doctors in Chicago at Premier Pain & Spine offer top notch treatment including SCS implants.