Shingles is a viral infection that generally affects only the right or left side of the body. The rash, which may look like a cluster of small blisters, can occur anywhere on your body, but it often wraps around one side of the waist.
While the infection causes nerve pain where the rash develops, frequently when individuals with shingles suffer lower back pain, the pain sets in before the skin rash. The intensity of the pain can vary from mild to severe and sometimes lasts for months or years. But having a better understanding of shingles–its signs, risk factors, and treatment–can help reduce how long an outbreak will last and decrease the likelihood that you will continue to have pain for long after the rash goes away.
Type of Pain
Shingles pain can take different forms. Usually beginning as itching or tingling skin early on, aching, stabbing, or shooting pain may follow. Some people describe the pain as searing or burning. The acute back pain that can accompany shingles sometimes resembles sciatica or other conditions that cause nerve pain.
But whatever kind of pain you suffer, the pain may persist for more than 30 days. In fact, reports show that as many as 15 percent of individuals who get shingles develop long-term pain.
Since shingles are caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox, you are at risk for shingles if you were exposed to chickenpox earlier in life or had the vaccine. The virus generally remains dormant in the nerves, but it can reappear as a shingles infection at any time.
There also is the chance that the shingles virus will damage the nerves near the surface of your skin, causing chronic or postherpetic neuralgia. You may be at higher risk of developing chronic nerve pain after having shingles if you are female, are older, have a weakened immune system, or experienced pain before you got the rash. A severe rash or severe pain during the early stages of the illness are other risk factors for continuing to have nerve pain even after the rash heals.
Your doctor may prescribe painkillers and tricyclic antidepressants to treat back pain associated with shingles. Depending on the severity of your pain, your doctor may treat your shingles with drugs such as lidocaine patches, which act as an anesthetic to numb the area, or gabapentin to relieve nerve pain following a shingles outbreak. The use of antiviral drugs during the first days after the shingles rash appears also may help reduce the severity of the pain.
No matter what medications your doctor prescribes, getting treatment as soon as you notice a rash on one side of your body can reduce the chances that you will experience long-term pain. Call a center such as ULTIMATE HEALTH- A Complete Wellness Center to get your pain looked at.
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