Postherpetic neuralgia is a medical condition that appears as a sequel of shingles or herpes zoster. It is caused by the Varicella virus or herpes zoster virus. It develops when the rashes of shingles began to vanish. It is represented by chronic, intolerable and burning pain in the areas where shingles have appeared. It affects the quality of life. It can be managed with medication, lifestyle modification, diet modification, and home remedies. Exercises or physical activities play a significant role in reducing pain and other postherpetic neuralgia symptoms.
Best Exercises/Activities For Postherpetic Neuralgia
Postherpetic neuralgia is a painful condition that appears after an episode of shingles or herpes zoster. It happens due to reactivation of the virus named herpes zoster. Shingles itself develops due to reactivation of herpes zoster virus which had infected the patient earlier in the childhood or adolescence in the form of chicken pox. It remained dormant in the nerve cells since childhood and got reactivated years after.(1)
Prevention of postherpetic neuralgia depends on the severity of shingles. If the shingles are treated with antiviral medicines in the early stages, the appearance of its complications is reduced to a great extent.(1)
Postherpetic neuralgia can be managed with medications. Lifestyle modifications with diet management, proper sleep, and regular exercises are the best ways to manage its symptoms and reduce pain and depression or other mental symptoms.(1)
Exercises and physical therapy can play an important role in the management of the pain of Postherpetic neuralgia (PHN). Exercises done should be moderate and it should not make you feel hard to continue.(3)
There are two types of physical therapies-
- Active therapy
- Passive therapy(2)
Passive therapy involves the application of cold packs on the painful areas. It is usually performed by your physical therapist. Active therapies involve physical exercises and activities. It also involves home-exercise programs. Both active and passive therapies help in the reduction of pain and other postherpetic neuralgia symptoms. If they are followed on a regular basis, then it will strengthen the muscles. It will also increase your stamina to perform daily activities. It is recommended to stick to a physical therapy program. Its treatment plan starts with passive therapy followed by active therapy. Many of these exercises can be practiced at home.(2)
In the beginning, simple exercises are advised, that decrease pain slowly and increases one’s stamina to perform daily activities. It also increases your energy and strengthens the muscles. Three types of active exercises are recommended for postherpetic neuralgia are aerobic, strengthening and flexibility exercises.(2)
Exercises should not be too strenuous. It should be done regularly in your lifestyle and should be routinely practiced. It should be practiced little but more often in a day.(3)
These exercises involve-
Low impact exercises are the best exercises or activity for postherpetic neuralgia. Yoga or tai chi or walking are its examples. Physical activities should start with these exercises initially.(2) Minor soreness is felt in the body initially which goes away by the time. If it does not go and intensify, then you should contact your doctor to detect the causes.(2)
Exercises may reduce the number of painful days and also reduce the feeling of stress and anxiety due to pain. Engaging yourself in activities will help you to remain distracted from the pain. Research studies state that postherpetic neuralgia is more painful for those who are less active and depressed due to less engagement in the work.(3)
Physical therapies can help a lot in dealing with postherpetic neuralgia. Active and passive physical therapies are suggested by physicians. The treatment plan is started with passive therapies followed by active therapies. Low impact physical exercises like walking or yoga are the best exercises that have various health benefits with fewer side effects.