Postherpetic neuralgia is basically a complication of shingles. This condition is caused by chicken pox and the risk of getting it increases as you age, especially after you hit your sixties. The condition causes a rash on the skin which comes with burning and itching sensations. These sensations tend to remain even after the rash disappears, making this condition quite frustrating for those who are suffering from it. Unfortunately, there is no cure for this condition. The treatment methods mainly focus on making the condition more bearable for the patients.
Although there is no cure, there are a variety of treatment options available. While no single treatment can help with the condition, it is usually a combination of different treatment types that end up relieving the pain. Doctors most commonly prescribe lidocaine skin patches, capsaicin patches, anti-convulsions, anti-depressants, opiod painkillers, steroids, and occasionally some pain medications that are available over the counter to help with the symptoms. Since there isn’t one specific treatment type that helps, finding the perfect combination to get rid of the symptoms can take a while. This can be very disheartening for patients who are suffering from extreme burning and itching sensations and can even hamper their daily tasks. However, it is important to note that eventually one does come across the correct medication and it can go a long way in pain management.
Oncepostherpetic neuralgia is diagnosed, the treatment can begin. Lidocain skin patches are meant to be used topically on the areas where the infection shows itself. These patches eradicate pain. Capsaicin skin patches are patches that are made of chilli. Though that may sound counterintuitive (rubbing chillies on wounds never sounds like a good idea), these patches help a lot when it comes to relieving pain topically. Unlike the lidocaine patch, these patches cannot be applied at home and can only be applied by someone who is trained to use them. The infected area is numbed before the application, which is why the chillies don’t hurt you.
Anti-convulsion medications are also known to work. Since postherpetic neuralgia is a condition that affects the nerve endings, leading to the rash and itching and burning sensations, the medication can help stabilize abnormal activities in the nerves. Anti-depressants, on the other hand, are prescribed to alter the way your body perceives the pain it feels. It is not just used for people who are depressed. Anti-depressants are prescribed in dosages that are small and manageable so that they don’t play havoc on your mood and emotions.
For some people, the pain can be more intense than others and over the counter medications do not really help too much. If this is the case, your doctor will end up prescribing opiod painkillers to you. These painkillers are extremely strong and can help numb out almost any pain. They may help you manage your pain very well and can even help you lead a normal life.
If you have been diagnosed with postherpetic neuralgia, then you are eligible to try out any of these treatments, per your doctors recommendations.
Anyone who is not diagnosed with postherpetic neuralgia is not eligible to try out any of these treatments. If you just have chicken pox, you cannot use these treatments.
Many of the medications that can be prescribed to help manage postherpetic neuralgia can have certain side effects. If you have been prescribed anti-convulsion medication, then you can expect drowsiness, swelling in the feet, unclear thinking, and unsteadiness. Similarly, anti-depressants can also lead to drowsiness, changes in your mood, dry mouth, weight gain, or even light-headedness. As to be expected, it is the opiod painkillers that come with the most amount of side effects to be vary of. These painkillers can make you feel extremely drowsy. They can even cause some dizziness, constipation, and confusion. Opiod painkillers are also addictive in nature.
The treatment of this condition never truly ends as there is no cure for it. Thus all guidelines given to you by your doctor regarding pain management apply to the rest of your life. Since you will be on so many medications, you may have to watch your diet or bring about certain changes in your lifestyle like avoiding alcohol, operating heavy machinery, and even driving.
The condition lasts for a lifetime, which is why there is no recovery period. However, there are periods in which you will not feel any pain, depending on the pain medication that you are on. For instance, capsaicin patches can lead to pain relief for up to three months in total while opiod painkillers can lead to pain relief for as long as you take the medication.
Most painkillers in India cost anywhere between Rs. 50 and Rs. 200, depending on the make and dosage of the product.
Since there is no permanent cure of this condition, the pain relief that you may feel will also not be permanent. It will last as long as you take your medication.
There are no specific home remedies to dealing with this condition. However, you can try using anaesthetic creams topically as and when you require them. You can also try hot and cold compresses to relieve some of the pain. Soaking in a hot bath with an anti-inflammatory essential oil such as lavender essential oil can also help with some of the symptoms like itching, though not necessarily with the burning. Wearing sock gloves on your hands while you sleep to prevent scratching yourself can also help with pain as you may break the skin while scratching intensely. Finally, you can also try massages to soothe your skin and acupuncture as well, though they can only provide a little bit of relief. Sticking to the treatment plan outlined by your doctor can help you the most.