An estimated 1 million cases of shingles are diagnosed every year in the United States. While this painful condition can affect anyone who has had chickenpox at any time, your risk increases as you get older. The physicians at Advanced Pain Management in Evans, Georgia, offer medical treatment that reduces the severity and duration of shingles, and can help relieve your pain. If you need treatment for shingles, call the office or schedule an appointment online today.
Shingles is the common name for herpes zoster, an infection that’s caused by the varicella-zoster virus — the same virus that causes chickenpox. After you have chickenpox, the virus settles in nerves, lying dormant for years until it suddenly reactivates and causes shingles.
Older adults and people with weakened immune systems have a higher risk of developing shingles. Otherwise, there’s no way to predict who might develop shingles or what makes the virus reactivate.
Symptoms typically begin with pain along the nerve pathway. Your pain may feel like a burning or tingling sensation and it can be severe. Several days later, a red rash begins, followed by the appearance of fluid-filled blisters.
The rash, which often looks like a stripe of blisters, usually stays on one side of your body or face, or wraps around an eye. The affected area is hypersensitive and often severely painful.
The blisters continue to form for about 3-5 days. Without treatment, shingles last 2-6 weeks.
Postherpetic neuralgia is a complication of shingles that occurs when damaged nerves continue to send pain messages to your brain. As a result, your pain lasts longer than one month, even after the rash has healed. For most patients, the ongoing pain is severe and debilitating.
The doctors at Advanced Pain Management specialize in several treatments that can relieve shingles, including:
Your doctor may prescribe topical medications to alleviate the pain and oral antiviral medications, such as acyclovir and valacyclovir, which are the primary treatment for shingles. Antiviral medications reduce the severity and duration of your shingles, lower the risk of complications, and may help prevent postherpetic neuralgia.
It’s important to seek treatment as early as possible. Antiviral medications are more effective when you begin treatment within three days after your lesions appear. You’ll get the best results when you start taking antiviral medications as soon as you feel pain but before the blisters erupt.
If you have postherpetic neuralgia, you may be a good candidate for spinal cord stimulation. This device alleviates pain by sending mild electrical impulses into the spinal nerves transmitting pain signals to your brain. As a result, the signals are blocked, your brain doesn’t get the message, and your pain is significantly reduced.
If you need treatment for shingles or postherpetic neuralgia, call Advanced Pain Management or schedule an appointment online.