Postherpetic neuralgia is a painful health problem, which primarily affects the skin and nerve fibers. The problem arises as a result of shingles, which in turn combinations as a complication of chickenpox. When the pain that results from shingles persists even after the shingles are healed then it is known as PHN i.e., post-herpetic neuralgia.
Research reveals that one out of every five people having shingles and likely to develop post-herpetic neuralgia.
Neuropathic pain occurs when the normal functioning of the neurological structure or its function is disturbed. The pain is mainly experienced as a burning sensation or sharp pinned pain.
As the problem first affects the skin, doctors deeply examine the skin by touching and pressing it from different angles on the affected area. In the majority of cases, no specific test is required to confirm the problem but in some rare cases, doctors may prescribe skin pricking,, in which a minor sample of the skin is sent to a laboratory for further analysis.
Alternative Treatment For Postherpetic Neuralgia
Usually, no single mode of treatment helps in relieving the pain in people suffering from postherpetic neuralgia. Depending on the patient’s condition different combinations of treatments are prescribed for reducing the pain.
Lidocaine Skin Patches – These patches closely Band-Aids, they are small patches having lidocaine medication applied. These patches are applied in the affected area and it provides instant relief to the patient from unbearable pain. They are flexible and can be cut into different sizes depending on the size and area of the skin. These patches are also available as over the counter medication for postherpetic neuralgia. The only difference is that low dose lidocaine patches are available on over the counter.
Anticonvulsants – There are some anti-seizure medications available for providing relief to the patients suffering from this painful disease. Neurontin, Gralise, and Lyrica are some of the anti-seizure medications that are very effective in eliminating the pain caused as a result of postherpetic neuralgia. These medications mainly stabilize the electrical activity that occurs in the nerves caused by any injury. There are also some side effects of this medication, such as swelling, drowsiness, difficulty in focusing and so on.
Opioid Painkillers – Some people who are at an advanced stage of this painful skin disease is required to take a high dose to prescribe medications comprising oxycodone, tramadol or morphine. Like any other medication, these medications can also cause constipation, dizziness, confusion and so on. However, as per the updated guidelines of the medical association, doctors should prescribe medications with opioids only to patients suffering from cancer. The chief reason behind this is that this medication as a higher risk of addiction, which can even lead to the death of the patient. Even if the patient is prescribed this medication, then the doctor should ensure to give a very low dose to avoid any possibility of addiction. Patients taking this medication are advised to stay away from alcohol or ay severe drug. One should never make the mistake of combing alcohol or drug with opioids as it can have serious after-effects.
Steroid Injections – For instant and prolonged relief from the pain doctors prescribe steroid injections, which are given on the spin area. Meningitis is one of the common side effects of taking steroid injection. (1)
Is It A Progressive Disease?
To date, no effective treatment has been identified that provides complete relief from postherpetic neuralgia. The treatment, medication and other approaches only help in reducing the pain experienced by the patient. The brutal truth is that postherpetic neuralgia is a progressive disease i.e.it grows, spread and becomes worse with time. The intensity or the speed by which the problem spreads in the body is not static for all the patients. Instead, it varies from one patient to another depending on the medical history and other undefined aspects. The progressive nature of this skin disease makes this problem one of the worst skin problems. (2)
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