Postherpetic Neuralgia (PHN)

Postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) is pain caused by damage or injury to the peripheral nerves caused by the herpes zoster virus, commonly known as shingles. Those suffering from postherpetic neuralgia may experience severe pain in the areas where the shingles rash originally erupted, but the pain can extend beyond this area. The quality of pain can range from a spontaneous burning to a tingling, shooting, sharp, throbbing or aching pain, it can be accompanied by intense itching, and it can worsen with touch or a change in temperature. Postherpetic neuralgia is the most common side effect experienced by individuals who have been infected with the herpes zoster virus (which also causes chicken pox).

PNH can last for months or even years after the rash has cleared, and most often, PHN presents on one side of the torso. The intensity and duration of postherpetic neuralgia is, in most cases, linked to one’s age and how quickly the shingles are diagnosed. Many patients with prolonged pain get better spontaneously over time, but for some, the pain becomes a chronic problem. For this reason, if you suspect you may have shingles, do not delay seeking medical attention.

People with PHN may have difficulty sleeping, and they may become depressed and withdrawn. Sleep deprivation itself can contribute to chronic pain. Consequently, it is crucial for individuals to report changes in sleep patterns and mood to their healthcare provider as soon as possible, so that appropriate medical assistance can be provided.

At the Kaplan Center, our physicians have years of experience treating patients with chronic pain conditions such as PHN, and we completely reject the notion that “you just have to live with it.”

At your first visit, your Kaplan physician will take time exploring the onset of your condition, the specific nature of your symptoms and the overall status of your health. You’ll also be asked about the medications and therapies you’ve tried in the past, and what has and hasn’t worked for you. To gather additional information about your condition, specialized diagnostic laboratory testing may be necessary.

After reviewing all of the factors contributing to your condition, your physician will spend time talking with you about your diagnosis and working with you to create a customized and multi-dimensional treatment plan that addresses not only your immediate pain but also any possible underlying or co-existing conditions that may be causing or aggravating your symptoms.

We offer a multitude of effective non-surgical treatment options, including:

We are here for you, and we want to help.

Our goal is to return you to optimal health as soon as possible. To schedule an appointment please call: 703-532-4892


Additional Resources:

Research study: A randomized controlled trial of a multifaceted integrated complementary-alternative therapy for chronic herpes zoster-related pain.
Research study: Acupuncture for the treatment of severe acute pain in herpes zoster: results of a nested, open-label, randomized trial in the VZV Pain Study.
Additional Information: Shingles Complications Fact Sheet Information from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention