Postherpetic pain is the most common complication that occurs following a shingles infection.
Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which causes chickenpox. If you’ve had chickenpox in the past, the virus lies dormant in nerve tissue near your spinal cord and brain.
Later in life, the virus can be reawakened and cause shingles.
Shingles can be incredibly painful, but the acute outbreak can be shortened with treatment. In older patients, shingles can cause a complication called postherpetic neuralgia. Symptoms of postherpetic pain include:
In people with postherpetic pain, even the feel of clothing on your skin can trigger pain and aching.
Your risk of developing postherpetic pain increases as you get older. It primarily occurs in people older than 60 or those with a compromised immune system. Other risk factors include:
These factors make it more likely that your nerve fibers were damaged during your shingles outbreak, causing postherpetic pain. The pain can last for months or even years.
Postherpetic pain can’t be cured, but the pain can be managed. At Pain Specialists of Oregon, your doctors may recommend:
Qutenza is a skin patch containing a high concentration of capsaicin, an extract of chili peppers. A single application can help decrease pain for up to three months.
An implanted spinal cord stimulator sends electrical impulses that block the nerve impulses causing pain.
Neuromodulation uses an outside electrical impulse to confuse nerve receptors and block pain signals.
Your doctors may also recommend peripheral nerve procedures or steroid injections to help manage your pain.
If you have post-shingles pain, contact Pain Specialists of Oregon to help you with management. Call today, or use this website to request an appointment.