Shingles Pain

shingles pain treatment houston texas

While many rashes just cause annoying or itchy bumps on the skin, shingles is different. While those who had chickenpox, most often as a child, or those who didn’t receive the vaccine for chickenpox are at risk for developing shingles, it most often occurs in people later in life. Shingles is very painful and there is no definite reason why some people might experience it and others won’t. However, there are ways to reduce your chances of experiencing shingles and also the painful symptoms of shingles, both of which include partnering with a pain management specialist. The Texas Pain Care team in the Sugar Land, Missouri City and Houston areas knows just how debilitating shingles can be and is available to help their family of patients avoid as many complications as possible. Get effective shingles pain treatment in Houston, Texas.

What is Shingles?

Shingles is a viral infection of the nerves that causes a painful rash. While shingles can occur anywhere on the body, it most often develops as a single stripe of blisters that wraps around the left and right torso. Also known as herpes zoster, shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which is the same virus that causes chickenpox. 

There is a minimal chance of developing shingles if a person received the chickenpox vaccination as a child, but if a person did contract chickenpox or was never vaccinated against the virus, the virus remains in their system for life. The virus more often than not remains dormant, but about one in four people will experience shingles when the virus becomes active later in life. 

There is no defined reason why one person will experience shingles and another may not. Some reasons could include a compromised immune system that allows the virus to reactivate, or it could be due to age, as shingles most often occurs in people at least 60 years old. 

Shingles itself is not contagious. However, if an unvaccinated child comes into contact with a person who has shingles, they might develop chickenpox. But, an adult who comes into contact with a person with shingles will not likely contract shingles. 

It’s important to note that while incredibly painful, shingles is not life threatening. Vaccines can help lower the risk of developing shingles, and early treatment is crucial to shortening the duration of the shingles outbreak as well as the severity of the symptoms, including postherpetic neuralgia. 

What is Postherpetic Neuralgia?

Postherpetic neuralgia is the painful and long-lasting side effect of shingles and is caused when the shingles outbreak damages the nerves. It generally occurs if shingles treatment was not started right away, but can happen to anyone who has shingles and generally those older than 60. Postherpetic neuralgia can be felt in the area where shingles occurred, and could last anywhere from months to years after shingles has been resolved. 

There are chances of additional complications from shingles, which include the possibility of another shingles episode, blindness, deafness, Ramsay hunt syndrome, blood infections or bacterial skin injections. These complications are rarely experienced in people who are otherwise healthy and have a strong immune system. 

What Does Shingles Feel Like?

The first symptom of shingles is pain, but symptoms change as the phases of shingles change. The first phase is usually tingling and burning, then it changes to a painful rash that turns to blisters, then the healing phase. Shingles usually lasts for two to three weeks, but there are instances where people can experience symptoms for longer if, for instance, the ulcers don’t properly heal or there is nerve damage. 

The most common symptoms include:

The rash generally presents itself on one side or location of the body. The most common places include the stomach, chest and spine, but the rash can also be found on the neck, face or mouth. As the rash changes to blisters, and the blisters burst to create small ulcers, additional symptoms can occur, including: 

All of these symptoms are temporary and should resolve themselves as the rash heals. 

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How Is Shingles Treated? 

The best way to treat shingles is to partner with a pain management specialist as soon as you believe you might be showing the signs and symptoms of shingles. Shingles is no ordinary rash and it’s important to seek medical attention to best treat the virus and prevent any severe complications from occurring. 

Medications: anti-viral medications, over-the-counter medications and anti-inflammatory medications all help to reduce pain, lessen the chance of complications, and help to alleviate the symptoms, such as itching or burning

Self care: utilizing cool, wet compresses and taking advantage of cooling baths and lotions can help alleviate symptoms. It’s also important to keep the skin clean and not reuse any contaminated clothing, towels, sheets, etc. 

Alternative therapies: yoga, relaxation and meditation help the mind to focus on something positive, allowing for temporary pain relief

It’s important to seek care as soon as possible as the chance of experiencing significant side effects can present themselves, such as blindness, deafness, or serious nerve damage that can affect your motor skills. 

Can Shingles Be Prevented?

The best way to avoid shingles is to make the herpes zoster vaccine part of your routine healthcare regimen. While the vaccine doesn’t guarantee that you won’t get shingles, it will help to lessen the severity and duration of the disease. Partnering with a trained medical specialist who is aware of your health history and current medical conditions will be able to recommend the best course of action to help you stay as healthy as possible. 

If you believe that you might be experiencing symptoms of the shingles virus, or would like more information about the benefits of the shingles vaccine, please schedule a consultation appointment with the Texas Pain Care team in the Sugarland, Missouri City and Houston areas today. We know just how painful the shingles virus can be and will partner with you to lessen your symptoms and accelerate your healing process as much as possible

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