Acupuncture and postherpetic neuralgia

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If you suffer from postherpetic neuralgia or neuropathic pain, give our office a call today at (425) 686-4498 to learn how we can help!

Acupuncture and postherpetic neuralgia

Did you suffer from chicken pox as a kid? Did you know that later in life the virus which can live dormant in your system can become re-activated? Varicella-zoster virus is responsible for chicken pox as well as shingles outbreaks. With shingles, you can have inflammation of peripheral nerves and it can present as a skin rash typically on one side of the body following a nerve root distribution pattern depending on what nerve root the virus affected. However, after the rash has subsided you can get what is called “subacute herpetic neuralgia” that is pain that persists after the rash but this pain typically resolves after three months. In some cases, the severe nerve pain persists longer than three months, then is termed “post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN).” Did you know that there might be safe, effective treatment options with acupuncture for postherpetic neuralgia? Yep!

Symptoms of Post-herpetic neuralgia

The pain associated with PHN is very debilitating and often describes as “burning, itchy, sharp, constant, and stabbing.” The person often has this pain along a specific dermatome (nerve root distribution pattern), often on one side of their body, but can be on their head, arms, trunk, legs, and back.

The treatment for PHN can be difficult but often patients are prescribed Gabapentin to help decrease nerve pain and anti-depressants. Most patients with post-herpetic neuralgia report that the pain can persist for months, years or even decades and is associated with physical and emotional symptoms including anxiety, issues with sleep, and decrease in quality of life. The exact cause of shingles may vary but underlying stress or stressful event may cause reactivation of the virus. Studies show that PHN maybe prevented with the shingles vaccine.

What do the studies say about acupuncture for postherpetic neuralgia?

The benefits of acupuncture are vast and include pain reduction, modulating the inflammatory response, and aiding in nerve health. A recent study in the Journal of Pain Research looked at how acupuncture could help PHN specifically. The study found that acupuncture helps o relieve pain intensity, anxiety associated with PHN, and can improve quality of life. In another study looking at how acupuncture could affect PHN compared to medication intervention, showed after 4 week treatment, the total effective rate of reducing symptoms with acupuncture was 91.6% compared to 83.3% in the medication group. Showing acupuncture can provide a safe and effective treatment option for those with PHN pain and associated symptoms.

If you suffer from postherpetic neuralgia or neuropathic pain, give our office a call today at (425) 686-4498 to learn how we can help!


Call or Schedule Now! (425) 686-4498

Call or Schedule Now!

(425) 686-4498

Dr. Ellie Heintze, ND, LAc

  • Master’s Degree in Acupuncture
    Bastyr University
  • Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine
    Bastyr University
  • Master’s Degree in Chemistry
    Northern Arizona University
Dr. Heintze Acupuncturist and Naturopathic Doctor

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