Postherpetic neuralgia is considered a complication of the shingles virus. Shingles is a nerve infection that is caused by the reactivated varicella zoster virus, also known as chickenpox.
Shingles can damage the nerve fibers in your body. The damaged fibers send incorrect signals to the brain, which leads to postherpetic neuralgia and the pain that characterizes it. The pain that results can last for a few months, or even longer. Your risks grow larger with age or if your immune system is compromised.
The pain that you experience can be burning, aching, or stabbing. It is often felt in the same area as the shingles outbreak and is typically on one side of the body. The affected area may be sensitive to the touch.
Postherpetic neuralgia cannot be cured, but its symptoms can be managed to reduce pain. Injections that block pain signals from being transmitted to the brain from the nerves, also known as local nerve blocks, can be used. A spinal cord stimulator may also be used to control pain.