Postherpetic neuralgia is a complication of shingles that affects nerve fibers and skin causing a burning pain that lingers long after the rash and blisters of the outbreak disappears. OPTIMAL Pain & Regenerative Medicine shares information on the causes, symptoms and treatments of post herpetic neuralgia for patients in the Dallas, Fort Worth and Arlington, Texas area.
What are the Causes of Postherpetic Neuralgia?
Postherpetic neuralgia is a painful complication that occurs after a shingles outbreak. The complication is caused by viral damage to the nerves. The damaged fibers cannot send messages from the skin to the brain as they normally do. The outcome is confused messages leading to chronic, sometimes excruciating pain that may last several months to several years.
Older individuals over the age of 50 are at a higher risk of developing post herpetic neuralgia. Other risk factors include the severity of the shingles outbreak, if the shingles developed on the face or torso and an existing, underlying health condition such as diabetes.
What are the Symptoms of Postherpetic Neuralgia?
The symptoms of postherpetic neuralgia are generally limited to the affected area where the shingles first occurred. Common symptoms include pain that lasts three months or longer after the rash and blisters healed, sensitivity to touch and itching or numbness.
Patients are encouraged to visit a physician at the first signs of a shingles outbreak. The risk of developing post herpetic neuralgia is lessened if antiviral medications are taken within 72 hours of the first signs.