Postherpetic neuralgia is a nerve pain due to damage caused by the varicella zoster virus. Typically, the neuralgia is confined to a dermatomic area of the skin and follows an outbreak of herpes zoster (shingles) in that same dermatomic area. The neuralgia typically begins when the herpes zoster vesicles have crusted over and begun to heal, but it can begin in the absence of herpes zoster, in which case zoster sine herpete is presumed.
Signs and symptoms
- With resolution of the herpes zoster eruption, pain that continues for three months or more is defined as postherpetic neuralgia.
- Pain is variable, from discomfort to very severe, and may be described as burning, stabbing, or gnawing.
- Area of previous herpes zoster may show evidence of cutaneous scarring.
- Sensation may be altered over the areas involved, in the form of either hypersensitivity or decreased sensation.
- In rare cases, the patient might also experience muscle weakness, tremor, or paralysis if the nerves involved also control muscle movement.
Acupuncture works very well for postherpetic neuralgia. It can relieve and eliminate the pain and the result is usually long-lasting.