Qutenza is approved to relieve nerve pain that can occur after a case of shingles. This prescription medication comes in the form of a patch and works by stimulating certain nerve receptors. Qutenza is only approved for adults (age 18 and older). Possible off-label uses for Qutenza may include treating other types of nerve pain and possibly arthritis.
What Is Qutenza Used For?Qutenza™ (capsaicin 8% patch) is a prescription pain treatment used for postherpetic neuralgia pain (nerve pain that occurs after a case of shingles). A single application of Qutenza can provide long-lasting pain relief for up to 12 weeks.
While shingles can certainly be quite bothersome and painful when it occurs, it sometimes pales in comparison to the complication that may occur afterward known as postherpetic neuralgia. Postherpetic neuralgia is pain that is present in the affected area for months, or even years, after the shingles rash has healed.
The pain with postherpetic neuralgia may be described as agonizing, excruciating, burning, sharp, electric-like jabs, burning, throbbing, or aching. This pain can result in an inability to perform daily tasks of living. Postherpetic neuralgia can be very frustrating, as there is "nothing wrong" (at least visibly) with the area causing the extreme pain.
Postherpetic neuralgia treatment usually involves medication. Qutenza is one of the medications approved to treat the pain associated with postherpetic neuralgia.
How Does Qutenza Work?
Qutenza contains capsaicin, a chemical naturally found in peppers. When applied to the skin, capsaicin initially binds to and stimulates a certain receptor known as the transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 receptor (TRPV1). This causes a sensation of burning and pain. This is followed by pain relief that can last for several weeks.
It is thought that the pain relief is caused by a decrease in nerve endings that contain TRPV1. As the nerve endings gradually regrow, pain will gradually return.