- Postherpetic neuralgia is one of the complications you may experience after shingles. Shingles is a complication you experience after getting the chickenpox virus. Postherpetic neuralgia will cause the nerve fibers in your skin to make it feel like you are burning. This painful burning sensation continues long after the actual rash and blisters associated with shingles have faded away.
The older you get, the higher your chances of developing postherpetic neuralgia. There is no cure. Some treatments can minimize the symptoms that you feel, and for some people the pain will improve over time.
Of course, a clinical explanation of postherpetic neuralgia does little to describe the pain and frustration you feel. Many postherpetic neuralgia sufferers describe the pain that they feel like having the blood pressure cut off to the entire area that is affected. For many people, it is their arms or their chest. They say that the area feels like a log in a campfire. When you look at a log in a campfire, you see the log change color as the heat in an area intensifies. That is the same pain that postherpetic neuralgia sufferers feel. It feels like hot cinders inside the body burning it from the inside out.
Symptoms of Postherpetic Neuralgia
As you probably noticed, the symptoms of postherpetic neuralgia generally stay within the area where the skin rash first developed. There may be a band area around your trunk or one side of your body that is more affected than the other. Unfortunately, postherpetic neuralgia is common for people who have had shingles on their face. Other signs of postherpetic neuralgia may include:
- An intense pain that lasts for more than three months. The rash is healed, yet the burning, sharp, jabbing, aching continues.
- Pain from light touch. Many sufferers cannot even stand the touch of clothing on their skin since they are that sensitive.
- Itchy and numb skin. Although not as common of a symptom, postherpetic neuralgia can cause your skin to feel itchy or numb.
Postherpetic neuralgia can have a marked effect on the way that you interact with friends. Since even the slightest touch can send waves of pain, it is likely that you avoid physical contact with others. When you have postherpetic neuralgia, you realize for the first time how much you and your friends communicate with each other through touch.
One individual who was dealing with postherpetic neuralgia said, “It seems that people tend to touch me on my arm during a conversation. I’ve grabbed quite a few people in midair as they were trying to touch me to stop them because I just could not handle another jolt of pain.”
If the above mentioned scenario sounds familiar to you, you have probably asked yourself, why did this happen to me?
What Causes Postherpetic Neuralgia?
When you get chickenpox, you have the virus until you die. As you get older, your immune system, which protected in your youth from the virus, eventually gets weaker. Or if you have had certain medications or chemotherapy in the past, your immune system gets so weak that the virus reactivates, and this time it gives you shingles.
Nerve fibers on your skin are damaged during the shingles outbreak. Because they are damaged, these fibers cannot send messages back to your brain like they normally do. Instead, the messages they send are jumbled up, confused, and overblown. This results in the excruciating, chronic pain you are experiencing.
Shingles and postherpetic neuralgia can affect anyone. However, if you are over 50 years of age, if you had severe shingles, if you had shingles on your face or your torso, or if you have had other illnesses that may complicate your shingles such as diabetes, you are at a higher risk of developing postherpetic neuralgia.
How We Can Help
Living with postherpetic neuralgia can be traumatizing. When you are first diagnosed with it, you hope that the symptoms will subside. But as the pain persists for months, you start to fear that the pain will never go away.
We understand the pain and the frustration that you feel. We know that even though the visible symptoms of shingles have disappeared, the pain left behind by postherpetic neuralgia is very real, and it affects every aspect of your life. We want to help you get back to living the life you did before this malady.
We do this by first taking the time to listen to you. We want to hear what you have to say. How has your pain affected your life? Are there any triggers for it? What have you tried to eliminate the pain?
Once we have answers to these questions, we can then go on with the process of creating a specialized pain management treatment for you. We will not insult you or insult the pain you have experienced by trying to give you a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all pain management program. What we design will be uniquely catered to meet your needs.
We understand that the process of managing pain may take some time. We want to help you manage your pain as quickly as possible. For this reason we will work with you to create a short term program designed to produce results.
At the same time, we craft a long-term pain management program. The goal is to help you keep your pain under control for years to come. No matter how long it takes, we will not to give up on you. Let us use our years of experience to help you get back to living the life you deserve.