Shingles and Post Herpetic Neuralgia

What is shingles?
Shingles is a viral infection of the nerve roots which is caused by the virus varicella zoster; the same virus that causes chicken pox. Typically, a person has chicken pox as a child, the virus becomes dormant or inactive along the spinal column next to your nerve roots. As people age, often times their immune systems weaken under disease states or stress. This opportunity allows the virus to reactivate causing the shingles outbreak. Most people who get a case of shingles will not get the disease again; however, there are few cases where it does occur.

What are the symptoms of shingles?
You may feel light tingling, burning or pain along the effected nerve root. Most common area is the chest wall, buttock, and leg, or even occasionally the face. There is typically a liner or cluster rash that begins to resemble water-filled blisters. These can be quite painful. Often times this is associated with headaches, light sensitivity and flu like symptoms. A serious complication of shingles outbreak is called post herpetic neuralgia, which is persistent pain after the rash has healed.

What is the treatment for shingles?
Treatment for shingles and post herpetic neuralgia includes early intervention with antiviral medications, symptomatic pain controls and interventional pain management.