Shingles Pain

Shingles, or herpes zoster, is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, commonly known as chicken pox. Affecting about 300,000 Americans each year, shingles occur in people who have had chicken pox and the once dormant virus becomes active again – usually after many years. Unlike chicken pox, which affects skin, shingles affect sensory nerves to cause post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN) or shingles pain. Stress, advanced age, illness, impaired immunity, severe trauma or a drug reaction can all trigger chicken pox virus to become re-activated as shingles.

Pain or burning along one side are normally the first symptoms of PHN or shingles pain, followed by a chicken pox-like rash. While shingles normally resolves in two to three weeks, shingles pain in some patients can last for months or years.

Treatment for shingles pain include:

  • Antiviral medications
  • Topical medications
  • Soothing lotions
  • Anti-inflammatory steroids
  • Nerve blocks
  • Epidural steroid injections
  • Drug therapy