Postherpetic neuralgia: Introduction
Postherpetic neuralgia is a complication of a disease called shingles. Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. Shingles affects nerve cells and the skin with severe nerve pain and a skin rash. These symptoms generally resolve within about a week. However, in some people the nerve pain of shingles persists for weeks, months or even years after the skin rash and other symptoms have gone away. When this occurs, it is called postherpetic neuralgia.
Any person who has had chickenpox can develop shingles and possibly postherpetic neuralgia. When a person has chickenpox, the varicella zoster virus can invade the nerve cells in the brain stem or spinal cord. The virus can then remain there in an inactive form for years until it is reactivated later in life causing shingles. This occurs most commonly to the elderly.
The chance of developing postherpetic neuralgia can be reduced if shingles is diagnosed and treated promptly with an antiviral medication, such as acyclovir. The best results occur if the medication is stared within 72 hours after the shingles rash appears.
Any condition that weakens the immune system can reactivate the virus and lead to the development of shingles and possibly postherpetic neuralgia. This includes such conditions as stress, other illnesses, HIV/AIDS, cancer, and having chemotherapy or an organ transplant. Other people at risk for shingles and possibly postherpetic neuralgia include those who have had chickenpox but have not received shingles vaccination.
Symptoms of postherpetic neuralgia include severe, deep pain that is ongoing for weeks to years after other symptoms of shingles have gone away. For more key symptoms and complications, refer to symptoms of postherpetic neuralgia.
Making a diagnosis of postherpetic neuralgia involves taking a thorough health history, including symptoms and vaccination history, and performing a physical exam. Diagnosis is based on the history of shingles and the occurrence of ongoing pain in an area affected by the shingles rash.
It is possible that a diagnosis of postherpetic neuralgia can be delayed or overlooked because the symptoms may resemble symptoms of other diseases. For information about misdiagnosis and diseases and conditions that can mimic postherpetic neuralgia, refer to misdiagnosis ofpostherpetic neuralgia.
Treatment of postherpetic neuralgia includes rest and a variety of medications to ease pain until the condition resolves. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of postherpetic neuralgia. ...more »
Postherpetic neuralgia: A condition which is characterized by persistent burning pain and hyperesthesia along the distribution of a cutaneous nerve.
More detailed information about the symptoms,
causes, and treatments of Postherpetic neuralgia is available below.
Postherpetic neuralgia: Symptoms
Symptoms of postherpetic neuralgia affect the nerves and occur in an area of the body that had been affected by shingles and the shingles rash. Shingles most often affects one side of the trunk, but can also affect the face. The primary symptoms of postherpetic neuralgia is pain that persists for weeks to years after other symptoms of shingles ...more symptoms »
Postherpetic neuralgia: Treatments
Treatment of postherpetic neuralgia begins with prevention of shingles, which can lead to the condition. The best protection from shingles is receiving the shingles vaccination (varicella zoster virus vaccine). The vaccine is generally given to adults over the age of 60 who have had chickenpox.
There is no cure for shingles or postherpetic ...more treatments »
Postherpetic neuralgia: Misdiagnosis
A diagnosis of postherpetic neuralgia is generally made from information obtained by taking a thorough health history, including symptoms and vaccination history, and performing a physical exam. Misdiagnosing postherpetic neuralgia is possible because some symptoms may be similar to symptoms of other conditions, such as chest pain, rib injury, and ...more misdiagnosis »
Symptoms of Postherpetic neuralgia
- Increased sensitivity of affected area
- Itching of affected area
- Numbness of affected area
- Weakness of affected area - rare
- more symptoms...»
See full list of 6
symptoms of Postherpetic neuralgia
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