This week on Beating Neuropathy and Chronic Pain, we’re going to talk about shingles. Shingles is a recurrence of the chicken pox virus, varicella zoster. If you had chicken pox as a child, the virus can be reactivated in your body and become shingles. It can present as unexplained acute mid-back pain and should be treated with antiviral medication within the first 72 hours of onset. Early diagnosis and treatment will lessen the duration and likelihood of complications from shingles.
One of the side effects of shingles is difficulty performing daily activities, pain, lesions, and postherpetic neuralgia. Post-herpetic neuralgia is a significant complication that occurs in about 50% of shingles sufferers. It presents as shooting pains, burning, or tingling that can last to months–or even–years after a shingles episode.
Treatment for shingles complications often consists of strong drugs, pain injections, and radio frequency ablation. There are some recent studies showing the effectiveness of other, less invasive modalaties for treating shingles and postherpetic neuralgia. These include TENS (transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation) and LLLT/LED (low-level laser therapy and light-emitting diode therapy).
One study showed that treatment with TENS showed a significant lessening in the development of postherpetic neuralgia. This kind of treatment must be administered by a trained clinician. Another study showed LLLT was effective in treating both active shingles and postherpetic neuralgia. Yet another, related article shows LLLT was also effective in treating the same kind of herpes that causes cold sores.
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