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How To Treat Nerve Pain After Shingles?

The symptoms of shingles are different for different people. Some fade away along with the skin irritation marks appearing on the body or face. In other cases, they can still be spotted after the skin clears. The latter case is called postherpetic neuralgia or PHN. It is a medical condition appearing because of the complication of shingles.

Oral medications like Gabapentin 100mg are prescribed for faster & long-lasting effectiveness of PHN. They’re extremely helpful in drowning intense tingling and shooting sensations. Additionally, inflammation of the skin is also minimized at considerable levels with such oral drugs.

Causes of Postherpetic Neuralgia

Postherpetic neuralgia begins with a common illness called chickenpox. It’s the virus called varicella-zoster that triggers PHN. After you’ve healed from chickenpox, the virus still has some hide-outs in the CNS. The reason for its remains is still unknown. But, it could reactivate even after decades & has the potentials of travelling along the pathways of the skin. This leaves a painful & blistering rash that can erupt. That’s shingles!

When shingles appear, it creates damage in neurotransmission. In other words, the nerves cannot send and receive messages to the brain like normal. The jumbled signals further trigger the pain of neuralgia.

Nerve pain due to shingles is expected to subside after a few weeks only. It should subside within a year as a maximum. If you don’t pay attention or treat it with effective medicines like Gabapentin 100 mg then it may last forever.

Postherpetic Neuralgia Symptoms

The symptoms of postherpetic neuralgia are usually observed & limited to the skin areas where the outbreak of shingles occurred first. Here are the pain sensitivity areas:

  • Numbness
  • Itchiness
  • Headache
  • Extreme sensitivity to touch or temperature change
  • Consistently inflammatory sensation
  • Aching or throbbing pain
  • Less frequent sharp burning sensation
  • Jabbing or shooting pain

Some patients may experience paralysis or weakness in the muscles because of the affected nerves. Moreover, sleeping problems and tiredness kick in.

What it is like living with Postherpetic Neuralgia?

Postherpetic Neuralgia aka nerve damage caused by shingles disrupts the normalized functioning of the nerves. As a result, the damaged nerve gets confused & relays chaotic signals to the brain with random neurotransmission. The patient thus experiences inflammation and throbbing pain along the nerves.

Many experts agree that the tissue scar occurs right beside the damaged nerves due to shingles. This creates pressure & the neurotransmission becomes more inaccurate. The number of nerves passing painful signals multiplies & PHN grows further.

Hence, the patients suffering from postherpetic neuralgia may have this pain lasting for 3 months or more. Additionally, the paining areas become touch-sensitive and this creates troubles in routine activities. If you have shingles and the pain isn’t subsiding after a week or two then consult your doctor immediately.

Treatment Options

A lot of treatment options are available for nerve pain after shingles. Though Gabapentin 100 is highly effective, it doesn’t mean that it is the only treatment available. Several antiviral agents, opioid pain relief medications, and anti-seizure medicines are prescribed based on different health conditions.

Mostly, doctors suggest OTC pain killers before prescription medicines or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These medicines improve the symptoms of PHN.

We’re about to see some most recommended ones as follows.

  1. Anticonvulsants

This drug class is specifically developed for controlling seizures & relieving pain triggered by postherpetic neuralgia. The best instances are Gabapentin, Pregabalin, and Carbamazepine. Some variants of Gabapentin like Gralise and Horizant are approved by FDA for treating PHN in adults.

  • Tricyclic Antidepressants

No matter what antidepressant your doctor prescribes, it’ll take a few weeks to be effective. However, Tricyclic antidepressants like desipramine, amitriptyline, and nortriptyline are specifically prescribed for PHN.

  • Analgesics

Analgesic is just another term for pain relievers which are suggested as OTC pills by doctors. Here are the commonly prescribed ones:

  • Lidocaine patches
  • Capsaicin cream
  • Ibuprofen
  • Codeine
  • Oxycodone
  • Hydrocodone
  • Peripheral nerve or spinal cord stimulation

A device is implanted beneath the skin along the peripheral nerves. For spinal cord stimulation, the stimulator is inserted into the epidural space over the spinal cord. As the electrodes get into their space, they’re turned on for passing electrical current to the nerves.

The goal is to trick the brain by turning the painful signals on and off by stimulating the non-painful sensory pathway.

  • Opioids

Moderate to severe PHN like morphine, Hydrocodone, and Oxycodone are popularly prescribed for treating nerve pain due to shingles.

Can you prevent shingles in anyways?

Zostax and Shingrix are the two FDA-approved medications for shingles. Currently, the vaccine is suggested for elderly people around 60 years and above. In case if your age is within 50 and 59 then you should talk to your doctor regarding any skin issues or immune system weakness (if any).

Such vaccines cannot promise 100% prevention of shingles, but reduce their potentials by half. Still, if you get shingles then the pain duration is shortened and so does the risk of PHN reduce. Moreover, if you catch the signs and treat them earlier then the chances of complications reduce. Consult your doctor and ask for anti-viral drugs. They’ll help you out.


Besides oral medications like Gabapentin, physical therapies like acupuncture, mind-body techniques & biofeedback are also helpful. Get some lifestyle improvement tips from the doctor. Overall, get a relevant treatment option for managing nerve pain due to shingles.

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