Shingles is the reactivation of the chickenpox virus called varicella-zoster. Varicella-zoster virus (VZV) is known to cause two diseases: chickenpox (varicella) and shingles (herpes zoster). The virus lies dormant in nerve cells in the spine and can re-emerge in the form of shingles years after chicken pox. Affecting the skin and nervous tissues, shingles causes a rash outbreak or skin blisters that may be associated with severe pain. Acupuncture is recognized as an effective therapy for the treatment of shingles.
Complications of the virus may include postherpetic neuralgia (PHN); a condition where the pain from shingles persists for months, sometimes years, after the shingles rash has healed. Management of shingles symptoms and PHN through conventional therapy is particularly difficult. Patients often opt for acupuncture for pain relief. Since the shingles virus attacks the nerve sensors located under the skin, it not only magnifies the pain and heat signals, it is often resistant to pain medications. For those that are resistant to or do not wish to take medications, acupuncture is an excellent and effective therapy for treating the pain associated with shingles.
Acupuncture can boost the immune system, reduce overheating and deactivate the virus, resulting in lasting pain relief. The treatment of nerve pain, as well as of the shingles blisters, is the focus of acupuncture therapy. For people with acute shingles, acupuncture may aid in the prevention of PHN development. Acupuncture treats the area around the rash, which is called “surrounding the dragon.” The area around the affected nerve root is also treated. The overall effect is to strengthen resistance and aid the body in expelling toxins and disease factors.
Your acupuncture physician may also suggest dietary recommendations to avoid foods that cause inflammation in the body and depress the immune system, including avoidance of saturated fats, refined foods, sugar, and spices. Depending on the state of the condition, treatment will vary in length and frequency. Initially, at least 6-8 weekly treatments are necessary before benefits are noticeable. For more information about acupuncture for the treatment of shingles contact Dr. Richard Browne at 305-595-9500.