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What is postherpetic neuralgia?

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Quick Answer

Postherpetic neuralgia is a health problem characterized by pain after treatment of a shingles infection. This condition often occurs when a virus attack damages nerve cells, according to MedicineNet.

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There is no cure for postherpetic neuralgia, but there are certain treatment options that may be used to relieve its symptoms. Individuals older than 60 are at a greater risk of developing this complication. The area of the body affected by shingles also increases the likelihood of this complication, notes Mayo Clinic.

Individuals with this condition are likely to experience a burning, sharp and jabbing painful sensation around the area affected. A gentle touch on the skin of the individual with this condition may cause a lot of pain. Other symptoms that do not occur frequently include numbness, itching, weakness or paralysis of the muscles and nerves.

To diagnose this condition, doctors usually take the patient history and inquire about any other symptoms that are experienced. A physical examination of the patient may also be done. Lab or imaging tests are not necessary to ascertain the condition.

Treatment options may differ from one patient to another. Sometimes a combination of treatments is necessary for success. Lidocaine skin patches, capsaicin skin patches, anticonvulsants, antidepressants and opioid painkillers are options available for treatment.

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