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Postherpetic Neuralgia

By

Kenneth M. Kaye

, MD, Harvard Medical School

Last full review/revision Sep 2021| Content last modified Oct 2021
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Exactly why postherpetic neuralgia occurs is not well-understood.

Postherpetic neuralgia occurs most often in older people. As people age, the chance of developing postherpetic neuralgia increases.

Symptoms of Postherpetic Neuralgia

The pain of postherpetic neuralgia occurs in the area where the shingles rash occurred. The pain may be constant or intermittent. The pain may be severe and even incapacitating.

The pain may subside within several months but may persist for years.

Diagnosis of Postherpetic Neuralgia

  • A doctor's evaluation

If people who have had shingles continue to have pain in the area affected by shingles, they should see a doctor.

Postherpetic neuralgia diagnosis is usually based on symptoms and results of a physical examination in people who have had shingles.

Treatment of Postherpetic Neuralgia

  • Pain-relieving drugs or creams

  • Sometimes other drugs

Although a number of treatments for severe postherpetic neuralgia have been tried, no treatment is routinely successful.

Postherpetic neuralgia treatments may include

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