If you have been shopping in your local pharmacy or watch TV, chances are you have heard about Shingles. This malady presents with blister like sores that are very painful. Caused by a member of the herpes family, initial infection results in chickenpox. After the chickenpox infection, it stays dormant in nerve ganglia until many years later where it can reactivate and present as Shingles. It tends to effect the thoracic and lumbar areas, or more rarely, nerves in the face. Typically lasting on average one to two weeks, fortunately it has a short course with only about 10% of people experiencing a reoccurrence. For a small percentage of people it can damage the infected nerve, creating Post Herpetic Neuralgia (chronic nerve pain).
Western medicine treats the problem with antivirals and anti-inflammatories – usually steroids. This will shorten the course of the infection and lower risk of nerve trauma and post infection complications. However, for a good many folks the treatment doesn’t go far enough. Traditional Chinese medicine can be used alongside Western medicine to more effectively treat the infection. This results in a shorter period of pain and quicker resolution of the problem. Acupuncture, Chinese herbs, and supplements are the main treatment tools.
Treating Shingles with a combined approach also improves the chances of not getting post herpetic neuralgia. The idea here is that one quickly resolves the infection there will be no nerve damage. If one does develop neuralgia however, acupuncture and herbs are a fantastic tool to treat the pain. It is very important to see your acupuncturist ASAP in order to get the most out of treatment and to minimize suffering. I have treated numerous cases with great results and would highly recommend TCM!