Postherpetic neuralgia is the most common complication of herpes zoster or shingles. It occurs when shingles outbreaks and damages the nerves. These damaged nerves fail to send messages from the skin to the brain, and the messages become confused, which results in chronic, severe pain that can last for months.
It usually affects people with an age of more than 60 years. It gets improved over time. It does not have a cure, but treatments can ease symptoms.
- Pain that lasts three months or longer
- Burning, sharp and jabbing, or deep and aching.
- Sensitivity to even light touch also
- Itching and numbness.
- Age. You’re older than 60.
- Severity of shingles
- Shingles location ( face or torso)
- Delayed shingles antiviral treatment – Typically for more than 72 hours after your rash appeared
Complications due to postherpetic neuralgia
- Difficulty sleeping
- Lack of appetite
- Difficulty concentrating
Postherpetic Neuralgia Treatment
The same treatment does not work for every patient. Hence a combination of treatments may be required.
1. Lidocaine skin patches:
These are small, bandage-like patches that contain the topical pain-relieving medication lidocaine, which can be directly applied to painful skin to temporarily relieve the pain.
2. Capsaicin skin patch:
These patches have a high concentration of an extract of chilli peppers (capsaicin) that can be used to relieve pain. Before applying it, your doctor may apply a numbing medication on the affected area. Single application decreases pain for some people for up to three months. After 3 months, it can be applied again.
Certain anti-seizure medications can lessen the pain of postherpetic neuralgia. These medications help to stabilise abnormal electrical activity in your nervous system caused by injured nerves. It can cause side effects like drowsiness, unclear thinking, unsteadiness and swelling in the feet.
Pain doctors often prescribe antidepressants for postherpetic neuralgia in smaller doses than they do for depression alone.
Common side effects of these medications include drowsiness, dry mouth, lightheadedness and weight gain.
5. Steroid injections
Steroids are injected into the spine (intrathecal or epidural) for postherpetic neuralgia. A low risk of serious side effects, including meningitis, has been associated with their use.
Painex Clinic Pune has the best team of pain specialist doctors who can treat postherpetic neuralgia with medication, non-surgical interventional treatment and many more modalities.