Postherpetic neuralgia

Postherpetic Neuralgia

Description, Causes and Risk Factors:

Abbreviation: PHN.

Postherpetic neuralgia is a painful condition which affects the nerve fibers and skin. Postherpetic neuralgia is a complication of shingles.

People develop postherpetic neuralgia after they have experienced a viral infection called herpes zoster. Herpes zoster can cause two conditions that result in small skin blisters—chickenpox and shingles.

Not everyone who gets shingles develops postherpetic neuralgia. It does not develop after chickenpox. The skin lesions of shingles heal in one to three months. But some people still have pain after the skin irritations heal. If the pain lasts longer than three months, you probably have postherpetic neuralgia.

Risk Factors Include:

1. Compromised immune system.

2. Prodromal symptoms.

3. Psychosocial risk factors.

4. Allodynia.

5. Pinprick hypesthesia.


    Occasional sharp burning, shooting, jabbing pain.

  • Extreme sensitivity to touch.

  • Extreme sensitivity to temperature change.

  • Itching.

  • Numbness.

  • In rare cases, if the nerve also controls muscle movement, the patient may experience muscle weakness or paralysis.


PHN is diagnosed if the pain persists or returns, 3 months after the shinglesrash started.In most cases, postherpetic neuralgia can be diagnosed during the office exam. No tests are usually necessary.


There is currently no cure. The duration of pain differs from person to person. For most people, the condition improves over time. Researchers found that over half of patients stop feeling pain within one year. In many cases, it may take a combination of treatments to reduce the pain.

Anticonvulsant drugs, usually used for seizures, may help with the pain of damaged nerves. Gabapentin and pregabalin are the ones most commonly used to treat postherpetic neuralgia. Skin patches with lidocaine may also be prescribed to relieve some of the pain for a period of time.

Pain medications are often needed. Sometimes acetaminophen or NSAIDs such as ibuprofen are enough. Many patients will need stronger, prescription drugs such as codeine, hydrocodone, oxycodone.

Drugs used to treat depression (antidepressants) may also help reduce pain, as well as help with sleep.

Electrical nerve stimulators may be used for severe, long-term cases of postherpetic neuralgia.

Disclaimer:The above information is just informative purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.

DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.


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