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Postherpetic Neuralgia (PHN)

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Postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) facts

  • PHN is a painful complication that occurs after a shingles infection.
  • PHN is caused by viral damage to nerve cells.
  • PHN is diagnosed by the patient's history and physical exam.
  • Treatment often requires more than one agent to reduce pain.
  • PHN may last one to two months, but some patients have PHN for longer than a year.
  • Older people and people with relatives who get shingles are at a higher risk for PHN.
  • Complications of PHN may include severe pain, pain-medicine addiction, diminished lifestyle, and in a few patients, paralysis of the affected area.
  • The prognosis of PHN ranges from good to poor, depending on the length of time the disease lingers and on the development of complications.
  • PHN can be prevented in many people by a vaccine designed to prevent shingles (Zostavax).

What is postherpetic neuralgia (PHN)?

Postherpetic neuralgia (also termed PHN) is a condition of recurring or persistent pain in an area of the body that has undergone an outbreak of herpes zoster virus (HZ), commonly termed shingles. It usually begins after shingles lesions (blisters) begin to crust over and heal but may occur in some patients who do not produce lesions. Some investigators suggest the pain has to be present for three months to be termed PHN.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/28/2013

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Source: MedicineNet.com
http://www.medicinenet.com/postherpetic_neuralgia/article.htm

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