Shingles & Post-Herpetic Neuralgia


What you should know about Shingles & Post-Herpetic Neuralgia

Shingles & Post-Herpetic Neuralgia

Shingles is an extremely painful syndrome seen in the elderly, cancer patients and  in patients  whose immune  system  is compromised. The symptoms are  burning, stabbing,  shooting  pain  involving areas which  are often so painful, the  patient  cannot  touch  them . It is caused  by the same  virus (varicella) which  causes chicken  pox. It results in blistering lesions which develop along areas of the neck, chest and  trunk. Less common are the legs. These  blisters usually last 4-6 weeks and  eventually heal sometimes  with scarring.  However, if the initial  infection  is  not   treated  aggressively,  the patient  may develop Post-Herpetic Neuralgia,  an extremely  painful  burning like  syndrome of  the affected area.

Shingles and Post-Herpetic Neuralgia should  be treated  aggressively  with   anti-viral   agents   and special  pain  medications designed  to treat  nerve pain.  Sometimes  nerve blocks  are  performed  to assist in this process.

Epidural Blocks
For patients who are in severe pain or resistant  to oral  medications, an epidural block  may be performed.  A tiny catheter  is placed  temporarily in the epidural  space  near the spine. Medication is then   administered   through   the  catheter  for  1 week while  the  patient  is home. The  catheter  is then  removed  and  the  pain  is usually eliminated or substantially reduced.