Managing and Preventing Postherpetic Neuralgia
Treatment for Postherpetic NeuralgiaDepending on the severity of symptoms, postherpetic neuralgia treatment may include:
- Lidoderm® patch (anesthetic applied directly to the skin)
- Antiseizure medicine, such as gabapentin (Neurontin®) or pregabalin (Lyrica®).
Not everyone responds to these medications in the same way, so it is possible that your doctor may try more than one medicine or different strengths of the medication before the pain is reduced.
Another method used to treat postherpetic neuralgia may include transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, or TENS. As a last resort, invasive procedures called nerve blocks may be used to provide temporary relief.
Once a person develops symptoms, there is no cure for postherpetic neuralgia. However, there are a couple of ways to prevent the condition, or at least reduce its severity or duration. These two options include antiviral medicines and the shingles vaccine.
Antiviral medicines are the most commonly prescribed medicine for shingles treatment. Examples include:
Besides being effective in reducing the severity and duration of a shingles attack, these medicines may affect the chances of developing postherpetic neuralgia. They may also help with the severity and duration of symptoms. For example, compared to people who did not take any medicine, famciclovir decreased the average time for postherpetic neuralgia symptoms from 119 days to 63 days.
These antiviral medicines must be given within 72 hours of the beginning of the shingles attack. They are not effective for treating postherpetic neuralgia if they are given after shingles has improved.