What is Post Herpetic Neuralgia (Herpes Zoster Pain)?
Post Herpetic Neuralgia (PHN) is a condition that affects the nerves, typically on one side of the body, and rarely affects both sides simultaneously. It results from the herpes zoster virus infection. The herpes zoster virus (Herpes Zoster) targets the nerves and has phases in which it causes nerve damage. This damage typically occurs within one to two weeks.
Some medications, antiviral drugs, and pain relievers are used to alleviate the symptoms until the virus's incubation period is over. However, in some cases, nerve damage can persist, leading to what's known as Post Herpetic Neuralgia (PHN), which can last for years.
The herpes zoster infection begins with fluid-filled blisters under the skin in the affected area. After about one to two weeks, the blisters disappear, but pain becomes the predominant symptom. The severity of pain can vary from person to person but is often quite intense in many cases.
Treatment of Post Herpetic Neuralgia:
In some cases, mild medications such as tricyclic antidepressants, gabapentin, and analgesics like acetaminophen or NSAIDs can control the pain associated with Post Herpetic Neuralgia.
Sometimes, when pain cannot be managed with these medications, stronger pain-relieving drugs such as morphine or tramadol might be used.
In cases where medications fail to provide relief or when strong pain-relieving drugs cannot be used, a minimally invasive treatment known as radiofrequency therapy or radiofrequency ablation is employed.
Radiofrequency therapy is performed in an operating room under local anesthesia and fluoroscopy guidance. It is a completely safe technique. A specialized needle connected to a radiofrequency generator is inserted through the skin, targeting the affected nerve. The radiofrequency generator then produces heat to treat the nerve. The nerve can be treated either by pulsed radiofrequency or continuous radiofrequency, depending on the specific nerve and the most suitable technique for the case.
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