An individual gets shingles pain when herpes zoster, the chickenpox virus, comes out of hibernation due to stress or a weakened immune system, explains WebMD. Because the virus stays at nerve roots, it can become quite painful during flare-ups.
As the virus reactivates, it travels along the nerve where it stayed dormant, causing burning or tingling pain followed by a rash developing in the area, says MedicineNet. This rash usually forms a band on one side of the body. Depending on the location of the virus, the pain can mimic headaches, stomachaches and heart attacks. Severe flare-ups can cause blistering and itching as well, according to Mayo Clinic. Because anyone who once had chickenpox can contract shingles, those with weakened immune systems such as the sick, the elderly, children and pregnant women are more likely to get shingles.
Doctors can treat shingles with antiviral medications and relieve pain and itching with topical ointments, corticosteroid injections, numbing agents and antidepressants, advises Mayo Clinic. An individual can practice natural pain-relief techniques by taking cool baths and manage flare-ups with stress-relief exercises. Shingles that are not treated properly can lead to nerve damage, skin infections, vision loss and persistent pain even between flare-ups.