Shingles and Post-Herpetic Neuralgia

Shingles and post-herpetic neuralgia are well-treated using naturopathic medicine.

Shingles is a painful, blistering rash that can occur anywhere on your body, but most commonly appears as a band of painful blisters on your trunk. Post-herpetic neuralgia is pain that lingers after active shingles has resolved.

Shingles is a viral infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. After the symptoms of a chickenpox infection resolve, virus can remains in your body, inactive, in the nerve tissue near your spinal cord and brain. Later in life, possibly when your immune system is weakened, the virus can be reactivated resulting in shingles. Shingles will usually self-resolve a few weeks, but while active can be very painful.

Complications from shingles are the result of damage to nervous tissue or infections arising from broken skin of shingles blisters, and may include post-herpetic neuralgia (pain that remains after shingles resolves), vision or hearing problems, balance problems, encephalitis (brain inflammation), facial paralysis and skin infections.

Seek professional healthcare if you experience symptoms you suspect may be caused by shingles.

Symptoms of Shingles

Possible symptoms of shingles include:

  • Rash that is preceded by a few days by pain in the skin
  • Rash that affects only a small area of your skin
  • Rash that itches, tingles or has burning pain
  • Rash that develops into fluid-filled blisters that break open and crust over
  • Fever and chills
  • Fatigue
  • General aching
  • Headache
  • Rarely, shingles develops with no rash

Treatment of Shingles at Toronto Centre for Naturopathic Medicine

At Toronto Centre for Naturopathic Medicine, the goals of shingles treatment are to reduce pain and shorten duration of infection and prevent or address potential post-shingles complications (e.g., post-herpetic neuralgia ).

Conventional treatment for shingles may include, and variety of medications, including antiviral medications, pain medications (e.g., oxycodone), tricyclic antidepressants, anticonvulsant medications and numbing agents. These medications may have short- or long-term side effects.

For this reason, you may choose to try natural treatment to possibly avoid use of conventional medications, or together with conventional medications in order to decrease dosages of conventional medications required to manage your shingles symptoms.

Naturopathic treatment of any chronic health concern must be recognized as a process that involves:

  • Identifying specific treatment goals
  • Development by your naturopathic doctor, of a thorough understanding of all factors affecting your health, including physical, psychological, emotional and lifestyle factors
  • Development of a comprehensive treatment plan
  • Implementation and maintenance of that plan through periodic monitoring and adjustment

At Toronto Centre for Naturopathic Medicine, a typical approach to treating shingles may be to:

Where appropriate, a number of therapeutic options are available, to be used alone, or more often in a complementary fashion, including:

Treatments provided by naturopathic doctors and registered massage therapists are covered by most extended healthcare plans.

References

Shingles [Internet]. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; [cited 2010 Jan 26]. Available from: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/shingles/DS00098.

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