Postherpetic Neuralgia

Find out more about postherpetic neuralgia and how Torrance Pain Institute can help you manage your pain, improve your quality of life, and get back to doing the things you enjoy.

The chickenpox virus, varicella-zoster, stays in the nervous system long after the blisters and itching go away. It can reactivate years later, causing painful rashes that usually appear on the torso and face. This is called shingles. Once shingles has run its course, there can be a complication called postherpetic neuralgia.

What is postherpetic neuralgia?

When a person has shingles, the nerve fibers and roots across the affected parts of their skin can get damaged. The result is postherpetic neuralgia. These damaged nerves fail to properly send signals to the brain, causing a painful sensation where the rashes from the shingles used to be.

What are the symptoms of postherpetic neuralgia?

People who have postherpetic neuralgia report either a sharp, burning pain or a deep, aching pain on the parts of their skin affected by shingles. This pain comes after their shingles rashes have disappeared, and can last for three months or longer. Their skin can also be very sensitive that clothing feels uncomfortable. Itchiness and numbness are less common symptoms.

Itchiness and numbness before the shingles breaks out makes the person more likely to have postherpetic neuralgia later. The greater the severity of shingles at its onset, the greater the likelihood of postherpetic neuralgia as well.

Women, people aged 60 years and older, and people with medical conditions that weaken their immune system (like HIV and cancer) are at greater risk of having postherpetic neuralgia.

What is the treatment for postherpetic neuralgia?

While there is no cure for postherpetic neuralgia, it can be managed with an intercostal nerve block. This procedure stops the damaged nerves from sending pain signals to the brain.

If you believe you have the symptoms of postherpetic neuralgia, call Torrance Pain Institute today. Ask about scheduling an intercostal nerve block appointment to treat your pain.