Postherpetic Neuralgia

Postherpetic neuralgia is a complication of shingles that affects nerve fibers, causing lingering pain in the area where the shingles outbreak occurred.

Postherpetic neuralgia doesn't just affect your nerves—it touches every part of your life, every part of you. It's a persistent companion, often an unwelcome one, and we understand how it can make you feel alone and misunderstood. But we want you to know you're not alone.

Our team is made up of highly skilled professionals who are not only experts in the field of nerve pain, but also compassionate listeners who truly care about your well-being. Our goal is to help you manage your pain, regain your strength, and rediscover the joys of living that neuralgia may have overshadowed.‍‍


The basics

Postherpetic Neuralgia (PHN) is a complication of shingles, which is a viral infection that causes a painful rash in a specific area of the body. PHN occurs when the pain caused by the shingles rash persists even after the rash has healed, leading to chronic pain that can last for months or years. PHN is more common in older adults and those with weakened immune systems. The pain caused by PHN can range from mild to severe and may be constant or intermittent. It can significantly impact a person's quality of life, but with the right treatment, many people with PHN are able to manage their pain and improve their daily activities.

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The presentation of Postherpetic Neuralgia (PHN) is characterized by persistent pain in the affected area that persists after the shingles rash has cleared up. The pain can be severe and can last for months or even years. The following are common symptoms associated with PHN:

  • Burning, stabbing, or shooting pain
  • Increased sensitivity to touch
  • Itching or tingling sensation
  • Numbness or loss of sensation in the affected area
  • Muscle weakness or paralysis in severe cases
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Difficulty with daily activities such as dressing, cooking, and cleaning

The symptoms of PHN can significantly impact a person's quality of life, making it important to seek medical attention for the appropriate diagnosis and management of the condition.

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Therapies & treatments

Anticonvulsant Medications

Anticonvulsants, such as gabapentin and pregabalin, can be used to treat nerve pain associated with postherpetic neuralgia. They work by reducing abnormal electrical activity in the brain and spinal cord that can contribute to pain.

Antidepressant Medications

Tricyclic antidepressants, such as amitriptyline, can help alleviate postherpetic neuralgia by altering the levels of certain chemicals in the brain that affect pain perception.

Lidocaine Patches

Lidocaine patches can be applied directly to the skin to help relieve pain associated with postherpetic neuralgia. They work by blocking the transmission of pain signals to the brain.

Capsaicin Cream

Capsaicin cream can be applied topically to the affected area to provide pain relief by reducing the sensitivity of nerve fibers.

Nerve Blocks

A nerve block involves injecting a numbing medication directly into the affected nerve to provide short-term pain relief.

Spinal Cord Stimulation

Spinal cord stimulation involves implanting a small device under the skin that sends electrical signals to the spinal cord to interrupt pain signals and provide relief.

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)

ENS involves applying electrodes to the skin that deliver electrical impulses to the affected area to help relieve pain.

Radiofrequency Ablation

A minimally invasive procedure that involves using heat to disrupt nerve signals and reduce pain.

Graded Motor Imagery

A program that retrains the brain to perceive and integrate sensory information to reduce pain and improve function.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy can help individuals manage the psychological aspects of postherpetic neuralgia, such as anxiety and depression, which can exacerbate pain symptoms.


Rehabilitation, such as physical therapy or occupational therapy, can help individuals improve their physical function and reduce pain symptoms through exercises, stretches, and other techniques.

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Self-care strategies

Stress Reduction

Managing stress can help alleviate symptoms of postherpetic neuralgia. Strategies may include meditation, deep breathing, yoga, or other relaxation techniques.


Regular exercise can help reduce pain and improve physical function in individuals with postherpetic neuralgia. Low-impact activities such as walking, swimming, or cycling may be helpful.

Heat and Cold Therapy

Applying heat or cold to the affected area can help alleviate pain and discomfort associated with postherpetic neuralgia. Hot baths, warm compresses, or ice packs may be helpful.

Topical Treatments

Topical treatments such as lidocaine patches, capsaicin creams, or NSAID gels can be applied directly to the affected area to help relieve pain and discomfort.

Dietary Changes

Making changes to your diet, such as reducing your intake of processed foods, sugar, and alcohol, and increasing your intake of anti-inflammatory foods like fruits and vegetables, may help alleviate symptoms.

Sleep Hygiene

Good sleep hygiene is important for managing pain symptoms associated with postherpetic neuralgia. Strategies may include establishing a regular sleep schedule, creating a comfortable sleep environment, and avoiding stimulating activities before bedtime.

Mind-Body Techniques

Mind-body techniques such as biofeedback, hypnotherapy, or cognitive-behavioral therapy can help manage pain and improve overall quality of life.

Support Networks

Building a support network of family, friends, and healthcare providers can help provide emotional support and practical assistance in managing postherpetic neuralgia.

Avoiding Triggers

Identifying and avoiding triggers that can worsen symptoms, such as stress or certain foods, can be an effective self-management strategy.

Education and Self-Advocacy

Learning more about postherpetic neuralgia, its causes, and treatment options can help individuals become more empowered in managing their symptoms. Being an advocate for yourself, asking questions, and seeking support from healthcare providers can also be helpful in managing postherpetic neuralgia.

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