November 3 at 1:45 PM • Comments: 38 • Views: 43717

Nerve Damage after a Shingles Outbreak

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If you've ever had chickenpox, your chances of developing shingles increases as you age. That's because shingles is the result of a reactivation of the same virus that causes chickenpox, the Varicella-Zoster virus (VZV). You're probably familiar with the common rash and blisters that develop from a shingles outbreak. But did you know that anywhere from 10-70% of these outbreaks can end with painful nerve damage that lasts anywhere from a few weeks to several months?

Shingles at a Glance

The symptoms of a shingles outbreak occur when the latent VZV becomes reactivated in response to stress, aging, or other immuno-compromising conditions. The virus travels from its hiding place (the dorsal root ganglia) in the spinal cord out to peripheral nerves in the skin. This causes a vague burning or painful sensation that later materializes as fluid-filled blisters that burst, crust over, and eventually heal. The whole outbreak usually lasts about 4 to 5 weeks.

An Unwanted Parting Gift

Some people continue to feel pain long after a shingles outbreak. They may feel a sharp and jabbing pain, or a deeper ache or burning in the area once affected by a shingles outbreak. Some report headaches, itchy skin, or an extreme sensitivity to touch and temperature changes. Such symptoms lasting longer than 3 weeks after a shingles outbreak is called postherpetic neuralgia or PHN.

Postherpetic Neuralgia

The symptoms of PHN are thought to be caused by several things. It could be that when nerves were repaired after the initial shingles outbreak they were done so incorrectly, creating exaggerated impulses which when sent to the brain are interpreted as pain. It may also be that inflammation in the spinal cord caused by shingles causes nerve scarring and long term damage.

Risks for Developing PHN

There is a clear connection between the development of PHN and age. Those who experience a shingles outbreak over the age of 60 have a 40% chance of developing the condition while those under 60 have only a 10% chance. The length of PHN also appears to increase with increasing age. It has also been noted that those with a distinct prodromal stage (the tingling or burning sensations felt just before a shingles outbreak) had a higher incidence of PHN development. Women also seem to have a higher chance for developing PHN, but it may just be that they report symptoms more often than men.

Treating Postherpetic Neuralgia

Because pain is the name of the PHN game, most treatments for this condition are centered on soothing pain. There are a variety of methods for treating nerve pain, some more natural than others. The chronic pain caused by PHN can also lead to depression which can further inhibit immune function and healing. A combination of natural pain relief methods as well as self-help for depression can make living with PHN much more bearable.

Sources:

http://www.fda.gov/FDAC/features/2001/301_pox.html

http://adam.about.com/reports/Shingles-and-chickenpox-Varicella-zoster-virus.htm

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/postherpetic-neuralgia/DS00277/DSECTION=3

From HelloLife
  • Safely starts relieving neuropathy symptoms such as pain, numbness, burning, tingling, sensitivity, and weakness.
  • Provides safe, non-stimulant relief without the negative side effects commonly associated with other neuropathy symptom relief medications, and is safe for use in adults and children

Learn more about Neuroveen ▶

38 Comments

  • catherine catherine

    This article on PHN was very enlightening as we have a patient with these symtoms and doctors have not been able to to make a diagnosis.The lady is in her eighties and had Shingles ten years ago. She has what seens like nerve pain in her arms and legs and had shingles on her back ten years ago. She also has difficultly with standing sometimes and also has bouts of nausea and vomiting which appears to be related to movement. She has just started Gabapentin and has aslo now been prescribed Codeine and Paracetamol combined to help with the pain. If anyone has come across anything similar it would be interesting to hear from you. Commented on HelloLife · September 28, 2011 at 4:58 AM

  • catherine catherine

    If anyone can give me any more inforation on PHN it would be very useful. Catherine White Catherine@rojene.co.uk Commented on HelloLife · September 28, 2011 at 5:01 AM

  • Dr. Jeff Chamberlain, MD Dr. Jeff Chamberlain, MD

    Acouple things about shingles that would be worth adding is that when a person has an episode, it breaks out in only one area of the body (dermatome). The Tash and pain are in the same location. The PHN would be in the same location as the rash. Also the PHN would start at the time of the out break and continue from then, it would not show up later, or in a different location. Getting a shingles vaccine cut she chances of getting shingles in half.

    We do not know yet if the chicken pox vaccine will prevent shingles, because it has not been out long enough to see what happens when people become older. Commented on HelloLife · September 28, 2011 at 11:40 AM

  • David David

    This is the first article estimating that the "whole outbreak of Shingles lasts about 4 to 5 weeks". Everything else I have read, suggests 2 to 3 weeks. Since I just finished Day 21 (3 weeks, and YES I am counting!), that means I still have chance that PHN will not be a part of my future? I really hope so! This is really killing me! I haven't had a single full nights sleep in 3 weeks. And I am worried that I am destoying my liver with too much Advil. I guess I better go back to my doctor for a follow-up? I read about accupuncture as a possible help. I am ready to try ANYTHING! Commented on HelloLife · October 18, 2011 at 2:11 PM

  • Dr. Jeff Chamberlain, MD Dr. Jeff Chamberlain, MD

    This is a really good question, here are some definitions and statistics on shingles and Post Herpatic Neuralgia (PHN) that might be helpful:

    -Acute Herpetic Neuralgia refers to pain preceding or accompanying the eruption of rash that persists up to 30 days from its onset.

    -Subacute Herpetic Neuralgia refers to pain that persists beyond healing of the rash but which resolves within four months of onset.

    -PHN refers to pain persisting beyond four months from the initial onset of the rash.

    One study showed that about 20% of people who developed shingles still had neuralgia pain 30 days after symptoms began.

    While only 10% to 15% of people develop PHN (symptoms lasting 4 months or more) the odds change greatly depending on age. The older a person is, the higher the chance that they will develop PHN (60 to 69 year olds with shingles have a 7% chance of developing PHN, while 80 year olds have a 20% chance of developing PHN). People who have HIV or other significant immune system compromise also have a higher chance of developing PHN.

    Also, it is important to know that PHN does not condemn everyone to pain for life. PHN pain in most people resolves over time, with most having complete resolution in less than a year.

    Based on these stats, you are still well within the normal rage for your shingles pain. It still might be a good idea to talk to your doctor about treatment options.

    Dr. Jeff M.D. Commented on HelloLife · October 18, 2011 at 7:56 PM

  • Erin Erin

    David - It sounds like Neuroveen might be helpful for you. I have friend here with neuropathy so bad it's hard for her to walk, but she said she's just started using it and it's already helping! Commented on HelloLife · October 19, 2011 at 9:34 AM

  • David David

    Dr. Jeff,
    Thank you very much! Your statistics are very helpful. So, technically, since I am just past 3 weeks with Shingles, I am most likely still in the Acute Herpetic Neuralgia stage. I am relieved to know that I am still within the normal range, and that it would be premature for me to think that this will absolutley progress to the PHN stage. It may not. I do have one additional question, and I think you are exactly the right person to know the answer. I have a regular gym exercise schedule, that I have been following for about 20 years now (except for the past 3 weeks, of course). Since this Shingles pain is caused by nerve damage, should I continue to stay away from the gym for awhile? I want to go back, but feel afraid that I might further damage nerves. I am 59 years old, and my outbreak affected one of the dermatomes starting around the middle of my back, and wrapping around the left side to just under my chest. My regular gym workout takes 90 minutes to complete (60 minutes with weights and 30 minutes cardio), and includes 16 different weight machines, each of which concentrates on different parts of the body. Two of them require extreme pressure on my back. One of them requires 410 pound weights, pushing with my legs, and braced with my upper back. The other involves the lower back, so I don't think that one would be a problem. I really don't feel right, not going to the gym, but don't want to cause more problems either. Your advise, please? Commented on HelloLife · October 19, 2011 at 12:23 PM

  • David David

    Erin,
    Thank you for the tip on Neuroveen. I just did some research on it, and since it is completely natural OTC medicine, it seems a perfect fit for me. I won't need to worry about liver damage, as I would with some of the prescription meds. I am going to give it a 3 month try. I'll let you know the results. Thanks again. Commented on HelloLife · October 19, 2011 at 12:30 PM

  • Dr. Jeff Chamberlain, MD Dr. Jeff Chamberlain, MD

    David, once the rash blister crusts over, then the varicella zoster virus is no longer contagious. From a nerve damage stand point. The nerve damage is at a sub cellular level, doing activities that puts pressure on the area my be uncomfortable, but would not cause more nerve damage. There is some evidence that the quicker a person with neuropathic pain gets back to a normal routine, the better they will feel.

    Stay Healthy,

    Dr. Jeff M.D. Commented on HelloLife · October 20, 2011 at 10:09 PM

  • David David

    Ok, thanks, Dr. Jeff,
    I am going back to the gym tonight!
    Commented on HelloLife · October 21, 2011 at 3:07 PM

  • Randy Randy

    I was diagnosed with shingles on 4/29/12. Was off work for 6 weeks. Now I have been dealing with PHN for the past 2 to 2 1/2 weeks. Just went back to work this week, and have to work through the pain, due to the gabapentin, nortryptyline not doing anything for me. VERY VERY FRUSTRATING AND DEPRESSING. I have tried numerous OTC cremes, and presribed creams/gel, and home remedies. Nothing has really worked as far as creams for me. I ordered a trial offer of PainBreak from website, www.painbreak.com, it gave a little comfort, not much, it's just like using icy hot, that's what it smells like. So I have basically started up with more vitamins in the morning, a,b12, b complex, c, e, and another product purchased online Del-Immune V with juices, and fruits around lunch time, salads in the evening, rebuilding my immune system, major changes here. The shingles outbreak was on the left side of my face, sideburn area, in the ear itself, behind the ear, along the cheekbone/collarbone, out torward rotator cuff, and shoulder and neck area, boy oh boy did it ever hurt, there was times it broke me down into tears it hurt so bad. As of now, I have PHN pain in the cheekbone area, down toward collarbone area, in the ear area, front and back, and neck area, so it is getting better day by day, and I am a smoker so that doesn't help either. I have noticed that smoking does aggravate it, and causes it to flare up, and other certain foods, all the good stuff, (lol), pork, chocolate, chips, diet pepsi, pepsi max, and trying to quit smoking while dealing with this whole episode was not possible, slowing down was, so quitting is the next step. I will be 51 in july, and I ABSOLUTELY DO NOT WAN'T TO EVER GO THROUGH THIS AGAIN, and I feel everyone's pain, wishing you all a speedy recovery. @ Erin, I will look for the Neuroveen and try that, I just can't deal eith this anymore, getting really depressed Commented on HelloLife · June 14, 2012 at 1:18 AM

  • Kathleen Kathleen

    Does anyone else have nerve pain in areas without shingles ? I just broke out 4 days ago and was lucky enough to start meds quick. I work in a hospital and have rheumatoid disease. So, I have herniated and bulging disc and they seem to be the ones that hurt? , for lack of a better description, but those areas do not have outbreak . Also I'm using ice constantly to decrease the pain, that has worked much better than narcotics. I have started neurotin . No new spots today, is this evolution complete? 4days? Commented on HelloLife · July 17, 2012 at 12:23 AM

  • Patsy Patsy

    I also have a question. If I EVER get over this outbreak and the pain, what are the chances that I'll have another episode of shingles, say years down the road?
    My shingles started like this: I have a "spot" on the left side of my back that for years has itched and been very painful at times. So, when this spot started itching and hurting more than usual, I just tried to live with it. It got worse and worse and the needle like shart hot pains would just go through me, under my left side, around to the front and under my left breast. It was awful and almost unbearable. I went to the doctor thinking I was having a stroke or a heart attack. No outward bumps or rash or anything. WEll, the doctor said, it might be shingles, but did xrays, EKG, blood and urine sample. It was another week before just a very small rash spot on my back broke out and then just a couple of tiny spots under my left breast. If this was a MILD case, I would hate to have a severe one. The pain is awful. But it is getting less and less. This is week three of the rash and it is drying up. The sharp hot pains are still there but nothing like that week before the rash. Any comments or thoughts on why the pain came first and was so bad and then the rash? Thanks for any comments. Patsy Commented on HelloLife · July 20, 2012 at 4:24 PM

  • Brittany Brittany

    I got shingles when I was 15 (about 7 years ago). extremely painful and felt like i would rather be dead. I had not even heard about shingles and thought it was probably just a rash so I did not get any medication for it in time. To this day the nerves in my middle back where I had the shingles are completely destroyed. My back area is numb and there is no feeling in it. I would advise anyone experiencing something like a rash to go into the hospital asap to ensure that it is not shingles. Commented on HelloLife · January 5, 2013 at 3:35 PM

  • M M

    I contracted Shingles March 28 2012 and today January 5, 2013 I am still in A LOT of pain, head, face, eyebrow area. The only thing that helps is ICE on my face and a glass of wine...... way past the painkillers at this point. Hoping for a painless 2013 Commented on HelloLife · January 7, 2013 at 10:47 AM

  • Teresa Teresa

    I have shingles right now. Rash almost gone on chest, inner arm and upper back.... but what I was wondering about is the sensitive skin under my right breast. Are these two things connected?? I've actually had undiagnosed pain(sore to extreme sore) in that area for 3 years. Commented on HelloLife · January 25, 2013 at 7:29 PM

  • Beatrice Beatrice

    With no disrespect to the fine doctor here who is trying to help, he knows little of the actuality of the disease. I take it he has only seen it and not lived with it. Someone asked, "Can shingles be recurring?" The answer is a resounding, "Yes." I have had it over 20 times in as many years and it CAN appear in different spots and cause pain in nearby area. I have had cultures and the finest neurological physicians at UCSF in California. They have confirmed that shingles can, indeed, be recurring and can cause PHN for far more reasons than the doctor on this forum states. To the young man who wanted to go back to the gym and apply pressure to that area: DON'T! PHN can occur when the area affected is traumatized by injury or pressure during AND AFTER the outbreak and can then cause further outbreaks as well as PHN. I KNOW. I got three outbreaks in a row on my bottom right spine/buttock and due to work HAD to sit on that area even when it was painful. It caused me severe PHN that lasted for three years but, thankfully, finally did resolve. Funnily enough, it caused me to be completely unable to sit flat so that which I forced myself to do because of work became an impossibility for me and I had to leave my position. Also, extreme stress through physical exercise (which I am guilty of) can lead to outbreaks. I am experiencing one right now while over training as a triathlete. Doctors can be a wonderful help but seek out one who is truly familiar with all the ramifications. I highly recommend a good neurologist who will understand the nerves and what affect them far more than a regular primary care physician. Once properly diagnosed and treated, then your PCP can manage your outbreaks. Best of luck, all. This disease is a rough row to hoe. Commented on HelloLife · February 18, 2013 at 10:28 PM

  • Anne Anne

    Beatrice is 100% correct.

    I'm not so sure that PHN is ONLY in the area of the shingles. Before I got the rash (and note that not everyone gets a rash!), the pain "under" my right shoulder blade and my upper back was unbearable - a hot/burning/sometimes stabbing horrific pain. I had lidocaine patches and Lortab from a previous injury and they didn't touch the pain. I was miserable. The actual rash showed up a week later; it was the size of silver dollar and located just on my side "under" my right arm near my breast. I forgot to mention the uncontrollable itching all over the right side of my back PRECEDING the rash.

    3 weeks later I had horrible pain between my shoulder blades radiating up my neck. I was told it was PHN and it should resolve in 3-6 months...don't panic. I was prescribed more pain meds. A month to the day after the first pain, I developed "pins and needles" in both arms (elbows down) and legs (knees down) as well as the left side of my face. I now feel muscle fatigue and some pain in my knees. The paresthesia is 24/7, but the muscle fatigue and knee pain is intermittent.

    The neurologist has dismissed PHN. Anyone have ANYTHING close to this? I'm currently "undiagnosed."

    A friend of mine also had shingles the size of a nickel on her side and had severe pain in the center of her back. So the pain is not necessarily ONLY at the site of the shingles rash. Commented on HelloLife · March 23, 2013 at 5:17 PM

  • Shelly Shelly

    About 8 months ago I started having sharp, deep,intermittent right lower quadrant abdominal pain, which I thought might br appendicitis
    . Since I worked in an Er I discussed this with the staff, and became sure it wasn't appendicitis. About a month later I broke out with the shingles rash on my abdomen right over the sight of the original pain., so I realized why I had the pain. Now it is several months later and I Continue having
    Intermittent pain. The pain is pretty bad when I have it causing me to want to sit down or double over, but it happens infrequently enough so that I haven't gone to check it out. Now I have had a 10 lb weight loss in the last3 months, down to 99 lbs and I am now concerned that maybe that pain is not related to the shingles. ,y question is can the post herpetic neuropathic pain occur intermittently the way I have e perienced it Commented on HelloLife · May 14, 2013 at 1:15 AM

  • Cory Cory

    Hi! I'm 62 and a female. On 4/16, I woke up feeling like I had fractured something in my jaw (I have TMJ). As the day went on, I then began to feel pain all through my neck and then thought I had done something to my neck. The next day, I did some work in the garden. That night I noticed what I thought was a bite on my neck. At this point, I was sure I had been bitten by a Brown Recluse!! I went to the doctor the next day and he diagnosed shingles. I started on 800 mg of Acyclovir 5 times a day, hydrocodone, and Lysine. By the next day, the right side of my neck, in my ear, around the ear, up into the scalp, down my neck and onto my chest and shoulder were literally covered with blisters. By the end of April, the blisters were scabbed, but the pain increased. Everything is now gone (May 16) (on the surface of the skin) and yet there are areas (in the same area as the shingles) that feel like they are on fire and I experienced intense itchiness. This wakes me up in the middle of the night. As much as I don't like taking pain pills, I have to take a pill three times a day. I'm self employed and I have to get back to working! I'm sincerely hoping that the pain and itchiness will be gone within the next six months tops. My doctor said I can't have the vaccination for at least three months. It's unfortunate that the onset of shingles doesn't automatically scream "shingles". Mine began as if I had either fractured something or done something to my neck. I would suggest that ANYONE over 55 who has a burning sensation or pain like I did in an area that can't be explained, go to the doctor. I would not wish this on anyone!!! Commented on HelloLife · May 16, 2013 at 9:01 AM

  • Mary Mary

    Almost 4 months ago I was diagnosed with shingles by my primary doctor. She prescribed Lyrica and did some tests to eliminate other contributers to my pain. All tests came out fine. My pain consisting of burning, stabbing pain, needle jabbing to my stomach and belly button area, and sensitivity to the touch. I went to a back specialist because part of the pain was coming from my left side back around to the front. He told me based on my symptoms, that I had intercostal nerve pain triggered by the shingles. The pain in my rib area gave him indication of this intercostal nerve pain. He prescribed an "intercostal nerve block" injection to my back. After this procedure, I did not have my relief and I am still having sever pain. I don't know what else to do and I am feeling depressed and hopeless in my pain. They are recommending another block/injection, but at the cost of $5000 a shot, I don't know if this would be the remedy seeing as to the first shot did not really help. Please, is there anybody out there that can help me? Commented on HelloLife · May 21, 2013 at 5:39 PM

  • Jody Jody

    my husband has had shingles for 3 weeks now. He is immune-compromised because of an autoimmune disease of the lungs. He is on immune suppressants and other medications. since his outbreak of shingles his bladder and bowels have stopped working. His shingles start at the small of his back, go down, his right buttocks, through his groin and up the front of his abdomen. Now the dr.s keep giving him prostate medication and laxatives thinking that if he gets his bowels evacuated he will be able to pass urine. His psa test was fine and his prostate is not enlarged. He has not been able to go without a catheter for more than 24 hours because he will have almost 2 quarts of urine backed up. My question is, Has anyone ever seen a bladder and bowels shut down from Shingles before and how long should this last if you have encountered this before? We are going on 3 weeks now and needless to say, it is a little frustrating. Thanks
    Commented on HelloLife · June 6, 2013 at 7:43 PM

  • Harry Harry

    I have shingles for 2 weeks now. I can't believe how painful this is. I am having a horrible burning like sensation in my stomach. It seems to be worse when I am laying down. I was wondering if this could be from something other then the pain from the shingles. Would I feel this kind of burning pain inside my stomach from the shingles. Also like other have said, you should definitely get the vaccine if possible. I work construction and am worried if I will be able to do my job anymore. Commented on HelloLife · June 19, 2013 at 3:31 PM

  • Eric Eric

    This is not a club I want to join, but welcome me to the club! I came down with a severe outbreak just 4 days ago.
    And I'm rather frustrated that all the information out there place the symptoms into very neat any tidy boxes.
    I am writing to attest and validate for others like me, that my experience completely deviates from the norm in the following ways:
    1. My flu like symptoms have NOT subsided. They began just prior to my outbreak and continue on
    day 5 of my rash. Chills, nausea, ringing in both ears, a swollen gland on the same side as my rash, and diarrah.
    All persistent and ongoing.
    2. I am experiencing nerve pain in multiple areas of my body where no rash exists.
    Including my head and down my arms and legs. I have extreme sensitivity in these areas. And there is zero outbreak
    there. I would kill to have the pain isolated to just the area of the rash itself, which
    covers an enormous part of the right side of my trunk, traveling below my chest and up and
    around my back.
    3. There's even pain occurring inside my body. It feels as if my right lung is affected. I have sensitivity when drinking cold water. I can feel the water traveling down my throat and settling in my stomach.
    Everything I've read states that the flu symptoms abate before the breakout and that the
    nerve pain, itchiness and burning are isolated to the affected area. And that the outbreak is strictly topical.
    This is not the case in my experience. If your experience is similar, please comment!
    Commented on HelloLife · July 1, 2013 at 3:00 PM

  • erica erica

    I was diognised with shingles 2 1/2 days ago... so far i cant say its the worst pain i have ever been through but it is surely uncomfortable. The worst part about this has been the unbearable burning in my stomach. Its driving me crazy... my rash is only about the size of a half dollar on my left shoulder blade but most of my pain runs down my left arm to my elbow. Im evwn experiencing aches in my left anckle (which sounds strange) but im really concerned about mt stomach pain. Is this normal... coyld ir be the valtrex they pur me on?? Thank you :) Commented on HelloLife · July 21, 2013 at 9:00 PM

  • Antony Antony

    I went to see my doctor because a pain I experienced in my right eye, had continued for some three months and needed Ibuprofen 600mg. to ease the pain, sometimes three times a day! It was diagnosed back then as neuralgia after an MRI scan..
    However, more recently, my forehead became intensely painful to touch, to the extent that I could not wear a hat. The doctor asked me to return two days later (I do not know why?) Anyway,the following day, the pain was so bad, including my right eye closing up completely and turning bright red, I decided to go to A&E. They immediately started me on a course of tablets for one week. My eye was inspected, found to be OK and a cream was prescribed.
    Two day later, the entire right side of my head was covered in scabs. I made Quasimodo look like the handsome prince!
    Two weeks have passed, the scabs have gone but my right eye keeps watering and feels like there is sand in it, together with the whole affected area is now absolutely numb!!
    The real nuisance is, I am 81 years old, also suffering with COPD. So, while I consider myself lucky I survived so far, the future appears a little bleak to say the least!!
    I think maybe I will have someone take another look at my eye, to be on the safe side.
    I would appreciate any comments. Thank you.
    Commented on HelloLife · November 2, 2013 at 2:47 PM

  • Kayleigh Kayleigh

    When I was 5 I got shingles, the doctors said it was from stress of starting school, I had them for about 2-3 weeks, and when they went they had left scars on my back, and still to this day the scars are still there. Although after the shingles disappeared I had loss of sensation in my back, I can feel my lower back fine but where the scars are I have very little sensation, so I can't feel things that are sharp, I get very itchy on my scars and because of the loss of sensation I can't relief the itch and so the slightest touch makes my back itch, it has been 11 years since my shingles and I still have to deal with the aftermath of it, can some one please help me in explaining why I have a loss of sensitivity?
    Thanks
    Kayleigh. Commented on HelloLife · November 16, 2013 at 4:25 PM

  • Raj Raj

    Kayleigh,

    As far as I understand this, your skin (where the rashes occurred) has nerve fiber under it. That single nerve fiber has roots and branches, coming from it, all the way up to your epidermis (skin). And that is the pathway of the Varicella-Zoster-Virus (culprit) to follow and cause blisters on the skin/epidermis.

    The thing to note here is that this Virus should not be there in the body if the chicken pox is done with and completely treated. But unfortunately the virus is left over hidden and dormant (inactive) in specific places of the body (like nerve fibers next to spinal cord and in some part of the brain as well) after an episode of chickenpox in a human being.

    Now if the immune system of that human body goes down at some point of time later in their life, this dormant virus becomes active again and starts playing i.e. shingles outbreak.

    When this happens the virus comes over to the epidermis following the nerve\'s root/branch pathway. Either this process alone (of virus moving up to the epidermis) itself damages those tender minuscule roots/branches of the nerve OR the mechanical/physical scratch done by the person (for relieve) over the contaminated/contagious itching area OR both.

    I, being optimistic for myself, am inclined to think that the mechanical/physical scratching (whilst the rash/itch outbreak) severely damages the nerve roots/branches and not specifically the virus travel. But lets see what happens? I am in Day 6 of the rash. (And not scratching).

    Now answering your question. IMHO, our human brain\'s 100% outcome depends on 80% of stored memory and 20% of the new signals. These new signal\'s feedback, changes and manipulates the other stored 80% info(memory) as we go on in our lives.

    In your case, probably, the 20% is providing no feedback to the brain (as the roots/branches of the nerve over your infested area are damaged) and the brain in only relying on the 80% stored info (that has its last record of itch and rash and itch and rash alone). The brain is stuck in a loop and hence the itch won\'t go away for you. The important thing to note here is that, there would be absolutely no results even if you completely numb that area using localized anesthetic, because technically the info is only being retrieved from the 80% stored and no new 20% feedback is being provided to correct the stored 80%. In fact using local anesthetic may make things worse and increase the itch in the surroundings as well.

    With this, I will try to provide you with any more info or a remedy to this problem should I got one and I am able to.

    At this moment, I guess the best of the best solution would be reset the brain and the mind. Like going to the place inside of us of complete silence for prolonged durations and resetting our own individual existence. That would probably not provide the new 20% feedback, but would definitely hard erase the stored 80%. We want to hard erase the stored 80% for this case. Because the repair of nerve roots/branches (i.e. 20% new feedback) is highly unlikely in grown human bodies, as far as I know.

    Raj Commented on HelloLife · November 17, 2013 at 12:23 PM

  • Michael Michael

    My Dad has had called postherpetic neuralgia or PHN for nine years now. He says it's like having a wire brush in your shirt. His nerve damage has given him pain now for NINE years. He takes antidepressive medication for the pain, and my mum has researched and tried everything. Nerve damage is the most impossible thing to cure, you can only treat the pain. I wish you all well and hope and pray you are not one of the 15% who seem to be stuck with the PHN. Thankfully, most people recover fully if correctly diagnosed and treated within 3 days, then the PHN is less likely to stay with you. My dad was incorrectly diagnosed, and was in a remote area where there was limited medication. He wore the full brunt of the shingles without treatment. Commented on HelloLife · November 21, 2013 at 6:38 PM

  • Bonnie Bonnie

    I was diagnosed with Ocular Shingles in Oct 2013 and it is now jan 2014 and I am still suffering. The visible marks were never extreme, however, I have had to get new reading glasses as my left eye is weaker now , but the worst thing is the pain in my neck, collarbone, shoulder with nerve pain radiating down to my fingers. I have been unable to teach for the whole of the last half term and am now worried I will not be able to actively carry out my duties. As an artist and Art teacher I need to use both hands and at the moment I cannot even drive. I have an MRI scan on Saturday as at first it was thought I had a rotor cuff problem but physio, steroid injection and acupuncture have failed to help my mobility or pain. Has anyone else encountered this type of post shingles pain? Commented on HelloLife · January 2 at 3:42 PM

  • Marc Marc

    I noticed that I had sight/light sensitivity prior to and during first part of the rash but it went away about a day after starting Acyclovir. Mostly so far, itching and some burning. Also, I did notice a small blister below my palm just before the rash around my waist.
    Commented on HelloLife · January 3 at 1:36 PM

  • Michelle Michelle

    I have post-herpetic neuralgia in my neck due to shingles and it has taken over my life and I cannot be as active as I used to. I have gained a lot of weight and really want to get back into shape but can't seem to do any exercises besides walking and need to tone up my stomach and other thighs but everything I try to do it always put strain on my neck and I am unable to do them because I am only on Cymbalta and it has not taken away my pain. If someone could please give me some advise it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Michelle Commented on HelloLife · January 5 at 10:46 AM

  • brandon brandon

    hello, i AM 30 YRS old and was deployed to Afghanistan when my shingles started. I had lost vision and blacked out due to the pain. This was in Nov 2013. I am being seen by the nuero doctors now who have placed me on gabapenton and have done one treatment of botox in the affected area. I have had an MRI that came back normal but was told the nerves that could have been damaged are far to small to be seen by this machine. I had suffered larger than normal lumps on the right side of my skull to my forehead all the way back to my neck. I have to this day a burning sensation all across the area that was once infected. It never goes away. I a m being seen for depression because of this and it has changed my way of life. I don't stop feeling it, therefore I don't stop thinking about it. I don't have a lot of advice for anyone, just knowing there are others who understand how bad this issue is has been helpful for me, so I thank you to those who took the time to post. Best of luck with us all. I do have a question in regards to the medication and timing of it. When I was in Afghanistan they didn't know what I had and was unable to treat it properly and right away. I went days with the pain and growing of this on my head without taking anything. It wasn't until weeks later when they sent me back home that I started the gabapenton. Because I was not taking it right away caused more damage as it sat infecting and destroying nerves? Commented on HelloLife · February 13 at 7:35 PM

  • Richard Richard

    I got shingles 6 months ago after worrying about a pending hernia operation. It was terrible and although it is gone I still have a 4" patch. At times it bothers me more often than not but I developed headaches which sometimes escalades to migraines. I don't have a history of headaches so I went to a neurologist who ordered an MRI. This came back normal although this was done without contrast. I also went to an optomotrist who didn't think it was eye related. As a fluke I thought the headaches could posibly be from the shingles. They did go away completelly for a month and my skin felt better but now they are back and that 4" area is bothering me again. Could I be right on my theory? Commented on HelloLife · February 16 at 1:11 PM

  • Glen Glen

    I am a 64 year old male and I was diagnosed with shingles the 3rd of Dec. 2013. It started in my left shoulder, thought I had pulled a muscle. I layed on the heating pad all weekend. On Monday went to family doctor, the pain was going down my arm, he thought I had a pinched nerve started me on meds. The next day I woke up and my left hand was literally paralized and I couldn\'t lift my hand it just drooped at the wrist, dr called it hand drop. He sent me to ER and they ran all kinds of test, I think they thought it was a stroke. Anyhow started breaking out with rash on that same day. They gave me gabapentin and acyclovir. Now here it is the middle of February and I still don\'t have use of my hand. I have to wear a brace on my hand. I am going to a neurologist and he did a nerve conduction test and my index finger and thumb have nerve damage more than the other fingers. I would like to know if anyone thinks there is a possibility that my hand will get back to normal. Dr. says this sometimes takes 3 to 6 months and sometimes a year. I would love to go back to work but I work in a factory and have to move big heavy reels and work at a big machine. any information would be helpful. Is there ANYTHING that can be done. Commented on HelloLife · February 18 at 11:18 PM

  • Jimmy Jimmy

    Hi Dr. Jeff, I have Zoster Virus for the past 28 days, july 12 I visited a Dermatologist on the first day I saw a rash in my neck, and I also feel headache down to my left arm, and that same he confirmed that it was zoster, blood test was also done and he says good no complications. I was prescribed with Famvir 500mg 14 x 7 days, Proxen 500mg 20 x 10 days & Novirax 5% cream, but after 4 days a got a severe headache specially when I moved my head on both side, so I decided to visit a Neurologist but he is available only on the 20th (famvir has been consumed), and he says due to the medicine, he replaced it with Tegretol 200mg 45 x 15 days, Voltafst 50mg sachet 30 x 10 days doctor says come back after 10 days, after 10 days he says to continue with the med. another btach was prescribed. But since the pain and itching never leave me, after 4 days so decided to see another Neurologist and he says stop taking Voltfast also says come back after 10 days, also I only sleep 3-4 h daily its difficult due to the itching, so I decided to have acupuncture I just did 2 session and I have 4 more, the Chinese doctor says I can continue the medicine if I want so I did. but the itching and pain are still here, now the pain and itching was reduce, my left eye is also late to response and when gurgle has leak on the left, difficult in wistle also is this PHN or Ramsy my neuro says its PHN but my acupuncturist says its Ramsy. did I make the correct decision from moving one doctor to another then to acupuncture? Commented on HelloLife · August 7 at 7:14 AM

  • Mike Mike

    My onset of Shingles was 12/2010. I'm still in pain each day. I was in good physical condition at the time of the onset and I still am. I returned to normal workouts as soon as possible after the rash subsided. The pain has never stopped. I still workout, but some exercises (specific to the areas originally affected) cause worse pain flare-ups, and I become more tired. Has anyone else experienced this? I don't intend to stop workouts. If anyone has an experience like this to share, I would much appreciate it. Commented on HelloLife · August 22 at 10:25 AM

  • Mike Mike

    My onset of Shingles was 12/2010. I'm still in pain each day. I was in good physical condition at the time of the onset and I still am. I returned to normal workouts as soon as possible after the rash subsided. The pain has never stopped. I still workout, but some exercises (specific to the areas originally affected) cause worse pain flare-ups, and I become more tired. Has anyone else experienced this? I don't intend to stop workouts. If anyone has an experience like this to share, I would much appreciate it. Commented on HelloLife · August 22 at 10:26 AM

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