Chronic Pain from The Shingles Virus

The chicken pox seems to be more of a household name over shingles. Scientists and doctors around the world have formulated vaccines to better treat and eliminate the chicken pox virus in the early 1990s when around 100-150 people were dying each year in the United States. It seems mothers and doctors nationwide were on the watch for this virus as early as newborn babies. Within this same virus, varicella-zoster, comes a viral infection called shingles. Like chicken pox, the shingles virus is accompanied with a rash on the skin. Since shingles is not as present in young children, doctors’ concern is focused on men and women 65 years and older. At Southwest Spine and Pain Center patients are assessed and treated for shingles to eliminate pain and recover from the virus.

Shingles usually affects patients with a lowered immune system or who have experienced a stressful incident. Looking at a patient with shingles, one would firstly assume that their rash only produced symptoms like itchiness and burning. However, before the rash even appears, patients feel severe pain in an area on their body. Because the pain seems to be arbitrary, physicians often misdiagnose the patient.

Postherpetic neuralgia is the term used for pain associated with the shingles virus that does not go away after the rash is cleared. The postherpetic neuralgia damages nerve fibers in the body and confuses the messages sent along the nerve roots to the brain, which leads to severe pain in the skin. The shingles outbreak most likely will cause nerve damage that makes the postherpetic neuralgia more intense. This pain interferes with patients’ lives and disturbs sleeping and eating habits. Even after the rash and blisters have disappeared, the infected area may have pain, burning, sensitivity to touch, itching, numbness, and even weakness or paralysis.

Patients of Southwest Spine and Pain can ensure that their shingles symptoms will be properly diagnoses and treated. Some treatments that physicians use to help with postherpetic neuralgia are lidocaine or capsaicin skin patches. These bandages are coated with pain relieving medication. The lidocaine patches are available upon prescription. The capsaicin patches are available with low-concentration cream at your local pharmacy, while a doctor can prescribe highly concentrated patches. Anticonvulsants and antidepressants are drugs often used for pain management associated with shingles. Anticonvulsants are targeted to stabilize the electrical nerve activity caused from injured nerves. Antidepressants help the patient’s body deal with the pain. All of these medications should be used and prescribed under the control and monitoring of a physician.

Southwest Spine and Pain does not necessarily use these specific medications for shingles pain relief. Call us today to find out more information. If you or someone you know is suffering from the shingles virus and has severe pain, contact a physician at one of the Southwest Spine and Pain locations.

If chronic pain is impacting your life, don't wait to schedule an appointment at Southwest Spine and Pain Center. With three locations and growing, the pain management specialists at Southwest Spine and Pain Center are dedicated to helping those who suffer from chronic pain live the life they want to! To schedule an appointment, visit our locations tab!

The advice and information contained in this article is for educational purposes only, and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.

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