Postherpetic Neuralgia Treatment Options

Postherpetic neuralgia treatment usually comes in the form of antiviral agents used during the outbreak of acute herpes zoster.  Postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) is a serious type of herpes zoster complication that is more commonly seen in older people, and is normally linked to considerable morbidity.  The disorder is known to cause fatigue, depression, and insomnia in people who have it.  Likewise, the patients’ day to day activities are affected as the disorder interferes with their normal motor functions.  Because of the pain, most patients are unable to work or perform their regular physical tasks.

Valacyclovir, acyclovir, and famciclovir are the most effective medications currently available that can be used for the treatment of postherpetic neuralgia.  These three have all been clinically proven to help alleviate the pain that is normally associated with herpes zoster, and are known to lessen the time of the herpetic rash appearance.  They are also approved for use in herpes zoster treatment. Antiviral medications can produce the most positive results when taken within the first three days of the occurrence of the rash.

There are other PHN treatment options available including tricicyclic antidepressants (TCA), gabapentin, topical analgesics, and opoid analgesics.  In many cases, patients need a combination of various treatment modalities to sufficiently manage and relieve the pain caused by the disorder.  This is because PHN is complex and the treatment options vary, depending on the specific condition of the patient and the severity of the disease.

Just like most other chemical and synthetic types of medications, there are certain side effects that are associated with the use of the antivirals for postherpetic neuralgia treatment. This includes vomiting, headache, nausea, and abdominal pain.  However, these side effects are generally considered as low and only minor that can easily be managed.  Usually, they do not linger and will go away within several days.

Postherpetic neuralgia is one type of disease that can be extremely debilitating particularly if it afflicts older individuals.  However, the early application of the antivirals, specifically within the initial 72 hours from the rash onset, can do a lot to help the patient.  It is effective not only for the reduction of the duration of the rash, but more importantly, for the reduction of the PHN duration as well.

The treatment of postherpetic neuralgia starts with its early diagnosis, and the subsequent control and management of herpes zoster.  The other treatment options like topical and opoid analgesics, gabapentin, and TCAs are usually needed because a lot of patients continue to experience pain even with the timely use of the antivirals.  Unfortunately, no single therapy is found to be totally effective that is why the implementation of various treatment modalities is often necessitated.

Most of the therapeutic agents available are applied only after the rashes are already treated and the application of one or more of them (TCA, gabapentin, analgesics) together with the antiviral agents during the stage of acute herpes zoster infection will help for both pain alleviation, and for the proper postherpetic neuralgia treatment and prevention as well.

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