People who have already suffered from chickenpox have the Varicella zoster virus in their body. These people are immune to chickenpox and won’t contract it if attacked by the varicella virus once again. In such cases, they are affected by the virus in a milder way, and they develop shingles. Studies have found that nearly one million people across the world contract shingles every year. The ailment itself can be cured with proper treatment, but many people above the age of 60 often experience pain even after the virus has run its course. This nerve pain caused by shingles can sometimes stay for the rest of their lives.
The medical term for shingles-related nerve pain is Postherpetic Neuralgia (PHN). This is a condition that can potentially cause damage to your nerves. However, not everyone who is affected by shingles will develop PHN.
Shingle is a viral infection that leads to a number of eruptions and skin rashes that appear in the form of a band, on various parts of the body. It can be very painful and unsettling. In case the band appears on a part of the skin that is often left exposed, it can be quite difficult for the patient to lead a normal social life. In addition to causing severe discomfort, shingles are known to affect an individual’social life, since people become overly conscious about this condition.
Nerve pain from shingles can also be quite excruciating. However, there is no reason to think that shingles are a problem that will inevitably lead to nerve pain. Various shingles nerve pain treatment methods have been discovered to offer relief and respite to patients.
Research and studies reveal that no single form of treatment appears to be sufficient to fight nerve pain. Often, doctors use two or more of the techniques mentioned below to treat the problem comprehensively:
Lidocaine Skin Patches – This is a form of medication in which medicated strips are applied to the affected areas of the skin. Lidocaine skin patches are rather topical in their approach and nature of treatment. They can provide respite from the itching and burning sensation associated with PHN, immediately.
Capsaicin Skin Patches – This is a form of medication where the extract from chili pepper, or Capsaicin, is applied to the affected area. Prior to the same, a numbing medicine is applied to the area. This is a type of shingles nerve pain treatment that must be only be performed by a doctor or trained medical practitioner. In addition to this, this form of shingles nerve pain treatment can help rid the pain for nearly two or three months, after which again the pain could resurface.
Anticonvulsants – Neurontin and Pregabalin are some medicines that can be administered to reduce pain and provide effective shingles nerve pain treatment. However, people taking these medicines are likely to experience drowsiness, a fairly common side-effect of the drug.
Antidepressants – Some antidepressants and drugs such as duloxetine, nortriptyline, and venlafaxine play an important role in shingles nerve pain treatment. Antidepressants moderate the chemical makeup of your brain and help in not only combating depression but also reduces the pain. They can alter the intensity of pain you experience. Doctors often prescribe antidepressants in small doses for shingles nerve pain treatment.
Painkillers – Often people do take painkillers to cope when the pain becomes excruciating. However, this is a practice that is not considered a viable long-term solution. The prime reason is that this is a pattern of shingles nerve pain treatment that could become addictive. It doesn’t treat the problem, but merely the symptom of the problem, i.e., the pain. People can easily develop a tolerance to various painkillers. Even doctors are likely to be cautious when suggesting painkillers, given their potential for addiction. Additionally, with prolonged use, it has been seen that painkillers can have a depressant effect on the human body. Doctors advise people who are taking these medicines to refrain from mixing alcohol and drugs as this can often lead to dangerous consequences.
Steroid Injections – Steroid injections are also administered to the spine in some cases for shingles nerve pain treatment. However, the effectiveness of the same as a viable treatment option is still widely debated.
Shingles is a problem where the skin is affected by rashes. In most cases, it has been seen that the problem goes away on its own with proper medication. However, this does not mean you should neglect the symptoms when they pop up. Consult a doctor immediately, and get the best possible treatment you can. Your doctor will most likely prescribe OTC painkillers if the condition is not very serious.