Pain after a breakout of shingles (also referred to as postherpetic neuralgia) can wax and wane, sometimes last months and be very painful. Singles is a herpes virus that can occur anywhere on the body along a dermatome (a line which nerves run along) such as the face, arms or neck.
Treatment of shingles pain that occurs on the chest is very important since it can compromise your quality of life and be very harmful to older people, as well as those with respiratory conditions.
All postherpetic neuralgia needs care, attention and treatment. Shingles pain can be a long and vexing medical condition, however there are many effective treatments available. The following are some options.
Shingles is a virus that is in the herpes family that runs along a nerve pathway on ONE SIDE OF THE BODY ONLY. As you can see from the drawing, below the nerves typically follow a defined pathway which can result in frayed and multiple-firing shocks that can be very painful no matter where they occur on the body. However, when they appear on the chest they can cause people to not breath deeply enough (because of the pain), and even lead to pneumonia.
Once you have a confirmed diagnosis of postherpetic neuralgia, you and your health care provider should come up with a pain treatment plan that may include use of medications, splinting exercises and other modalities.
There are numerous medications that can be used to treat postherpetic neuralgia that work on the frayed nerve endings from topic patches such as Lidoderm to low-dose tricyclic antidepressants, and even low dose anticonvulsants. A fairly new medication, Lyrica, has recently been approved for postherpetic neuralgia. Lyrica works by reducing the number of extra electrical impulses sent out by the damaged nerves and quiets down the pain. Lyrica has been shown to be very effective and safe in numerous studies. However, you and your health care provider should examine all of your medical options and decide together on what seems to be your best option. Narcotics may even be needed to help get the pain under control. You and your health care provider should "start low dose and go slow" on an agreed-upon treatment plan.
Shingles pain on the chest (or any other body part for that matter) can also be reduced by meditation, prayer, relaxation breathing and splinting of the painful parts of the body.
Know your treatment options. Do not suffer with a treatment plan that is not working well. Go back to your health care provider and discuss your other options. Learn or relearn relaxation methods. Prevention is now possible for those 60 and over with a vaccine called Zostavax.
This article is for informational purposes only. Only a licensed health care provider can diagnosis and treat any medical condition.