Understanding Chronic Shingles Pain
If you had chickenpox as a child, you may be at risk of developing shingles as an adult, as both conditions are produced by the same virus: varicella-zoster. Even after the condition has improved and symptoms have disappeared, people never truly recover from the disease. The virus lies dormant in the body and has the potential to resurface later in life. Research suggests that the virus comes back as an individual gets older and their immune system becomes weaker. The pain management specialists at Southwest Spine and Pain Center are able to help patients understand what shingles pain is and how to prevent it from becoming chronic.
Understanding Shingles Pain
Shingles typically begins with pain and other symptoms such as sensitivity to touch, numbness, or tingling. After a few days, the condition progresses into a painful, blistering rash. Shingles patients may also experience fevers, headaches, and body aches. Depending on the location of the pain, patients may mistake their symptoms with heart, lung, or kidney problems. Nevertheless, some people with shingles never develop a rash, or really intense, sharp pains. Some shingles patients have reported pain flare-ups from certain triggers like brushing skin across furniture or from the wind hitting their bodies.
Avoiding Chronic Pain
What If I Have Shingles And A Poor Immune System
If you have a poor immune system and develop shingles then see your doctor straightaway. You will normally be given antiviral medication whatever your age and will be monitored for complications. People with a poor immune system include:
- People taking high-dose steroids. per day for more than one week in the previous three months. Or, children who have taken steroids within the previous three months, equivalent to prednisolone 2 mg/kg per day for at least one week, or 1 mg/kg per day for one month.)
- People on lower doses of steroids in combination with other immunosuppressant medicines.
- People taking anti-arthritis medications which can affect the bone marrow.
- People being treated with chemotherapy or generalised radiotherapy, or who have had these treatments within the previous six months.
- People who have had an organ transplant and are on immunosuppressive treatment.
- People who have had a bone marrow transplant and who are still immunosuppressed.
- People with an impaired immune system.
- People who are immunosuppressed with HIV infection.
Help Is Available For Phn
Fortunately,early treatment for shingles can lower your chances of getting PHN.
For some people, the pain becomes refractory, or resistant to treatment, explains Dr. Rosenquist. So we want to treat shingles as fast as we can ideally as soon as somebody feels a tingling or burning sensation, even before a rash develops.
Sheadds that whenever nerve pain is involved, some people respond to treatment andsome dont.
However,medications taken orally or injected that can target the affected nerves may beable to stun the nervous system into behaving properly. That meanstransmitting the appropriate signal to the brain.
You May Like: Can You Get The Shingles Vaccine Before Age 50
When Shingles Pain Doesnt Stop: Coping With Postherpetic Neuralgia
Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, will affect about 1 in 3 Americans during their lifetime. For most, the itching and painful rash will run their course over two to four weeks, and that will be the end of it.
Unfortunately, about 10-13 percent of people who develop shingles will continue to have pain after the other symptoms are gone.
This pain, called postherpetic neuralgia, or PHN, usually lasts only a few weeks or months. But for some people, the pain can persist for years. PHN can afflict anyone whos had shingles, but the risk of developing it increases with age.
If youre one of the unfortunate PHN sufferers, your doctor may recommend one of several treatment options:
The best answer, of course, is to never contract shingles and never develop PHN in the first place.
Shingles is caused by the virus that causes chickenpox, and anyone whos had chickenpox can get it, although its more common in older adults. The virus lies dormant in the body and can resurface years after you recover from chickenpox.
Fortunately, vaccines are available that can prevent or lessen the severity of shingles. If youre over 50 and had chickenpox as a child, talk to your doctor about getting the vaccine.
The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace or counter a physicians advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.
How Do Nerve Blocks Work
Nerve blocks, or neural blockades, are injections we use to deliver pain medication directly into the affected nerves, stopping pain signals from getting to the nervous system. They are used to both diagnose and treat pain.
There are several types of nerve blocks depending on the area thatâs being treated. We can use this procedure to treat pain in different parts of the body. They are useful in managing both chronic pain conditions and short-term pain, allowing people to improve their quality of life.
You May Like: Do You Need A Prescription For Shingles Shot
Coping With Shingles Pain
If you have shingles, you may be wondering how to cope with the pain:
- Be sure to get plenty of sleep and eat a healthy diet to help boost your immune system.
- Wear comfortable, loose clothing with natural fiber .
- Establish or maintain a regular exercise routine.
- Utilize home remedies to help soothe pain from blisters.
- Engage in activities that help take your mind off of the pain.
- Establish a routine to help manage stress.
- Seek out support when needed from family and friends as well as professional supportive services.
Rebooting The Nervous System
Its like restarting a computer, Dr. Rosenquist says. When its running slowly or acting weird, you restart it. We are trying to turn that nerve off. When it comes back on, hopefully, it will send an appropriate transmission as opposed to a pain transmission.
Treatmentoptions for PHN patients include:
Patientswith refractory PHN rarely need opioid pain medication. However,you should be evaluated by a physician. We cant make a blanket statement abouttreatment. It is individualized, she says.
Also Check: How Long Does Shingles Pain Last After Rash
How To Soothe A Shingles Rash At Home
From oatmeal baths to cold compresseslearn how to soothe shingles pain and itching with these at-home remedies.
Shingles is a painful, blistering rash caused by the varicella-zoster virus , the same virus that causes chickenpox. After a person recovers from chickenpox, VZV remains in the body in an inactive state. Shingles occurs when the virus becomes active again, and most often appears as a single band of blisters that wraps one side of the torso, though it can appear on any part of the body. Its estimated that one in three people in the United States will experience shingles at some point in their lifetime.
While there is no cure for shingles, there are antiviral treatments available that can ease symptoms and reduce the duration of the infection. Antiviral treatments should be started within the first 48 to 72 hours, and preferably within the first 24 hoursif you or a loved one has shingles, see a healthcare provider as soon as possible.
How to soothe shingles at home In addition to following the instructions for shingles care given to you by your healthcare provider, the ideas below may help you get relief from the itching and pain.
Take an antihistamine Antihistamines may be used to help relieve itching. Speak with your healthcare provider about which antihistamines are recommended for shingles.
What Medications Help For Shingles Pain
Pain from shingles can be very distressing. If you need help managing your pain, talk to your provider about the options below. The right one for you will depend on many factors, like how bad your pain is, other medications youre taking, and any other health issues you have.
None of these options are a replacement for the antivirals above, and they are generally for short-term use, since longer use can increase your risk for side effects.
NSAIDs. For shingles pain, start with NSAIDs, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. You can find these over the counter on pharmacy store shelves, and they include popular medications like , , and . These are meant for short-term relief of mild to moderate pain.
Glucocorticoids. For more severe pain, glucocorticoids like may help. They may also speed up healing from shingles.
Opioid pain medications. Lastly, you can ask your provider about an opioid pain medication like oxycodone or hydrocodone/acetaminophen. These are also for short-term treatment. Opioids come with a risk for causing dependency and addiction, among other side effects.
Recommended Reading: Shingles Vaccine Cost Cvs
Don’t Miss: Do I Need A Prescription To Get Shingles Vaccine
The Best Pain Doctor For Shingles Pain Treatment Is Roziermd
If you have shingles pain, you should immediately seek the care and treatment of a reputable pain doctor.
Dr. Antonio Rozier is a highly experienced and reputable pain management doctor. He is the best pain doctor for shingles pain treatment in Dallas, Mansfield & TX. He is equipped with different interventional techniques and treatments for various types of pain including shingles pain.
If you have shingles pain or you are searching for a doctor that is very experienced in the treatment of shingles pain, Dr. Rozier is highly recommended.
Who Is At Risk Of Getting Shingles
Shingles typically affects older people, but it can also occur in healthy younger persons and even in children. Those whose immune systems have been weakened by cancer, HIV infection, AIDS, or treatment with certain medicines are also at increased risk of getting shingles.
- Anyone who has had chickenpox is at risk of getting shingles later in life. About 1 in 3 people who have not been immunised against chickenpox or shingles will get shingles in their lifetime.
- Shingles usually affects older people. The older you are if you get shingles, the higher your risk of getting serious disease. People who have a weakened immune system are also at risk of getting more severe disease, even if they are young.
- Women have a higher risk of getting shingles than men.
- Most people who develop shingles have only 1 episode during their lifetime. However, you can have shingles more than once.
An attack of shingles during pregnancy will not harm the unborn baby. The mother is already carrying the varicella zoster virus before developing shingles and there is no increase in the risk of passing it on to the fetus if shingles develops. However, an attack of chickenpox during pregnancy can be serious and requires urgent medical attention.
Don’t Miss: What Works For Shingles Pain
What Types Of Nerve Blocks Can Alleviate Shingles Pain
Intercostal nerve blocks for shingles pain: Intercostal nerves are located below the ribs, going from the back to the chest . In our pain clinic, we often treat pain conditions affecting this area, like PHN, with intercostal nerve blocks. These nerve blocks help alleviate the pain, stimulate circulation, and reduce inflammation in the area.
Sympathetic nerve blocks: Different types of sympathetic blockades can be applied depending on the affected area: lumbar sympathetic block , stellate ganglion block, and sphenopalatine block .
Trigeminal nerve blocks: The trigeminal nerve is located in the face. Although not common, sometimes shingles affect the face. When this happens, we can use trigeminal nerve blocks to help alleviate shingles pain in the area.
Whats The Difference Between Cream Lotion And Ointment
Ointments, lotions, and creams are three types of substances you can apply to your skin to help manage shingles.
These topicals are similar, but there are slight differences in their makeup. The primary difference is the amount of water and oil they contain.
According to this 2016 primer, creams are made up of about equal parts oil and water and often have moisturizing properties. Theyre thicker than lotions but thinner than ointments.
Lotions are similar to creams, but they are made up mostly of water. They have less oil and have a thinner consistency. Because theyre thinner, your skin absorbs them more quickly. Some lotions are oil-free.
Ointments are the thickest of the three. They are made to stay on top of your skin instead of being absorbed immediately. Ointments are made up of at least 80 percent oil.
Also Check: Can Shingles Cause Sciatic Nerve Pain
What Specialists Treat Shingles
Primary care physicians, including internal medicine specialists, family medicine specialists and/or specialists in infectious diseases, can appropriately treat some patients. An emergency medicine physician may start the initial care. However, if there is a chance the eye may be involved, an ophthalmologist should be consulted. If a person is pregnant and gets shingles, they should consult with their ob-gyn physician immediately. For long-term or chronic pain involved in postherpetic neuralgia, a neurologist and/or pain specialists may be involved in the care of the patient.
Other Treatment Recommendations For Shingles
If you think you have shingles, see your doctor as soon as possible. This increases the effectiveness of any treatment your doctor will prescribe for you. The treatment doesnt cure shingles. Its meant to help you manage the pain.
Besides acupuncture, you can use other methods to manage your pain. These include:
- antiviral drugs such as Famvir, Zovirax, and Valtrex
- over-the-counter and prescription pain relievers
- calamine lotion, colloidal oatmeal, andwet compresses
Two vaccines are available for adults ages 50 years and older. The Food and Drug Administration approved Shingrix and Zostavax for use. These vaccines reduce the risk of getting shingles. If an older adult still gets shingles after being vaccinated, the symptoms may be less intense.
Shingrix, made from a dead germ, is the preferred vaccine. People with weakened immune systems can get it. Its risky for this group to get the Zostavax vaccine, which contains a live but weakened germ.
Zostavax has not been sold in the United States since November 18, 2020. If you received this vaccine, the
Also Check: Does Medicare Pay For Shingles Injection
What Are Other Complications Of Shingles
Complications of zoster are more frequent in people with lesions in or around the eyes, forehead, and nose , or around the ear and on the face . People with shingles in or near the eye should see an ophthalmologist immediately, as they can suffer painful eye infections and, in some cases, temporary or permanent vision loss. Symptoms can include redness and swelling involving just the white of the eye , the clear front of the eye , or internal parts of the eye. If the cornea is involved, treatment to avert permanent scarring is important to preventing lasting vision loss. The disease can cause damage to or death of the nerve cells that react to light .
Shingles infections within or near the ear can cause hearing or balance problems as well as weakness of the muscles on the affected side of the face. These problems can be long-lasting or permanent.
In rare cases, shingles can spread into the brain or spinal cord and cause serious complications such as stroke or meningitis .
The varicella zoster virus also may involve blood vessels or provoke an immune reaction irritating the surface of blood vessels . People with shingles have slightly increased risk of stroke, greatest in the first few weeks after vesicle eruption, but lasting for several months. The risk of stroke is highest in people with eye zoster, perhaps as much as five percent.
The Physics Of Ice Dams
Ice dams occur because snow and ice on the roof melt due to the homeâs interior heat. When this mass travels down the roof, it freezes again as it reaches the colder exposed overhangs or eaves. Over time, the frozen melt-off can build up into a dam barrier that causes ice and water to back up under the shingles. Inside the home, the dripping water can damage the interior ceiling and wall surfaces. Additionally, the sheer weight of ice dams may damage the roof overhangs and gutters.
Don’t Miss: What Should You Do When You Have Shingles
Take An Oatmeal Bath To Relieve Itching
Oats are widely known for their anti-itching property. You can add ground oats to bath water and settle in for a soak to relieve your itchy rash. Finely ground oats turns into a gooey mass when mixed with water. This coats your skin, soothing your skin and relieving itching. This calming property of oats is attributed to its gluten content.10
When Should I See My Doctor
See your doctor as soon as possible if you are experiencing any symptoms of shingles. Starting treatment with antiviral medicines within 3 days of the rash appearing should reduce the severity of symptoms and the risk of further complications, including post-herpetic neuralgia.
See your doctor straight away if you have symptoms of shingles and are experiencing the following:
- symptoms that affect your eye area
- a temperature of 38°C or higher
You should also see your doctor if you are pregnant, or have a weakened immune system due to medicine that suppresses the immune system, or a condition that weakens your immune system.
Don’t Miss: What Is In The Shingle Shot
How Long Does Shingles Last
Most cases of shingles last three to five weeks.
- The first sign is often burning or tingling pain sometimes it includes numbness or itching on one side of the body.
- Somewhere between one and five days after the tingling or burning feeling on the skin, a red rash will appear.
- A few days later, the rash will turn into fluid-filled blisters.
- About one week to 10 days after that, the blisters dry up and crust over.
- A couple of weeks later, the scabs clear up.