Postherpetic neuralgia: Causes, treatment, and prevention


Symptoms are usually limited to the area of skin where the shingles outbreak first occurred and may include:
After the signs of shingles have gone, nerve pain may remain.

  • Occasional sharp burning, shooting, jabbing pain
  • Constant burning, throbbing, or aching pain
  • Extreme sensitivity to touch
  • Extreme sensitivity to temperature change
  • Itching
  • NumbnessIn rare cases, if the nerve also controls muscle movement, the patient may experience muscle weakness or paralysis.Some patients may find the symptoms interfere with their ability to carry out some daily activities, such as bathing or dressing. Postherpetic neuralgia may also cause fatigue and sleeping difficulties. 

    Diagnosis and treatment

    As PHN is a complication of shingles, it is generally easy to diagnose. If the symptoms persist after shingles, or if they appear after the symptoms of shingles have cleared up, then the patient might have PHN.

    Treatment will depend on the type of pain as well as the patient’s physical, neurological, and mental health.


    These may include tramadol (Ultram) or oxycodone (OxyContin). There is a small risk of dependency.

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