Understanding Postherpetic Neuralgia -- Symptoms

What Are the Symptoms of Postherpetic Neuralgia?

Neuralgia occurs in one part of your body, typically on one side. The condition follows the area that was affected by shingles along the distribution of a specific nerve. The pain may be:

  • Sudden, shooting, sharp, burning, or stabbing
  • Accompanied by a background sensation of burning, itching, or aching, or by hypersensitivity to touch
  • Continuous or coming and going
  • Long lasting -- continuing for days, weeks, or longer

Call Your Doctor About Postherpetic Neuralgia If:

  • You think you have shingles. Early treatment can reduce the chances of developing postherpetic neuralgia.
  • You experience pain that is particularly severe or lasts longer than one week.
  • Facial neuralgia spreads to an eye after a herpes attack; this could lead to visual impairment if untreated.
  • The pain becomes too great to bear. There are a wide variety of medications that are used to treat postherpetic neuralgia..

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Richard Senelick, MD on February 28, 2015

Sources

SOURCES:

American Academy of Family Physicians: “Shingles.”

Center for Shingles and Postherpetic Neuralgia: "Surgical options for treating postherpetic neuralgia" 

Center for Shingles and Postherpetic Neuralgia: "Treating shingles with tricyclic antidepressants to lessen the risk of PHN."

Johnson R., BMJ, April 5, 2003.

Jung, B., Neurology, May 2004

Lyrica: "PNH: How Lyrica Works."

Mounsey A., American Family Physician, Sept. 15, 2005.

NINDS: “Shingles: Hope through Research.”

Oxman, M. New England Journal of Medicine, June 2, 2005.

Douglas M., Drug Safety, 2004.

WebMD Health News: “Shingles Vaccine to Be Routine at 60.”

Food and Drug Administration: “FDA Licenses New Vaccine to Reduce Older Americans’ Risk of Shingles.”

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