Shingles: What is it? Who gets it?
Shingles, also known as herpes zoster occurs in adults and individuals with a lower immune system when the dormant chickenpox virus becomes reactivated in one’s nerve tissues. Shingles is a painful skin rash that can last for months. The virus travels down nerve fibers to cause a painful skin rash. When the rash goes away, the pain usually goes with it. But for some, 12% to 15% the pain remains, a condition known as postherpetic neuralgia.
Signs & Symptoms
Preliminary signs of Shingles include a tingling feeling on the skin and localized pain. This can occur one to five days even before a blistering rash occurs. Although the rash appears superficial, it presents a more severe level of pain in the form of itching, burning and deep nerve pain. The rash will appear in a single characteristic band around one side of the torso or even the face. It becomes blister-like, as sores filled with a clear fluid that scab over within a week to ten days. The scabs gradually grow smaller before they disappear.
It’s vexing at best – uncomfortable, painful and frankly, turning to over the counter painkillers like acetaminophen, aspirin, and ibuprofen don’t help in worst-case scenarios.
Why Nerve Blocks?
Great question – because a peripheral nerve block is one way to relieve pain at the source. In this case, a tiny flexible tube that you can’t even feel is placed under the skin into the space containing the painful nerves. A nerve block with numbing medicine is administered. A nerve blockade is any deliberate interruption of signals traveling along a nerve, resulting in diminishing pain and offering relief. The tiny tube can be left in place for a week at a time, constantly delivering the numbing medicine. It is often more effective than taking opioids and eliminates the need for other medications (which carry with them severe side effects.)
If you are suffering from Shingles and are interested in a consultation with Dr. Fisk, please contact our Bellevue office by calling (425) 440.3351 today. We’re here to help.