Post Herpetic Neuralgia, Shingles and Chinese Medicine
Any individual who has suffered through shingles (herpes zoster) can attest that the experience can be counted as among the worst that a human being can suffer. Usually shingles manifests as an agonizing, burning pain following one or more nerve paths from the spine outwards, and is accompanied by a fluid-filled rash which gradually evolves into painful scabs.
Cruelly, the visual signs of shingles may vanish after several weeks, but leaving searing nerve pain where it had been yet with little or no outward signs. This pain is termed, post-herpetic neuralgia.
While we often treat acute shingles at the Northside Holistic Center with good effect, it is even more common that people are directed to us by their physician or a peer who has been treated at the clinic for post-herpetic neuralgia. This is because living with the neuralgia is often almost intolerable and acupuncture and Chinese medicine are so effective at alleviating the problem.
Articles and Research
- A recent article compared the effectiveness of acupuncture and Chinese medicine to conventional medical care for shingles and found that the effectiveness was the same and was, ultimately, cheaper. The article, reprinted below:
Acupuncture Cost-Effective For Herpes Zoster Care - New Research12 APRIL 2012New research published in the Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine finds acupuncture as effective as pharmacological drugs for the treatment of herpes zoster. The study also notes that acupuncture is more cost-effective as a treatment modality for this ailment. Herpes zoster, also known as shingles, is a viral infection that causes painful skin rashes with blisters. This is the same virus that causes chickenpox. Adults who have had chickenpox earlier in life have a 50 percent chance of contracting a herpes zoster outbreak later in life, however, herpes zoster can attack at any age.A total of 500 patients with herpes zoster were part of this randomized clinical trial. They were divided into 5 treatment groups to compare Chinese medicine with anti-viral drug therapy. Group 1 received acupuncture and electroacupuncture. Group 2 received moxibustion. Group 3 received red-hot needle treatment. Group 4 received tapping needle technique plus cupping and group 5 received drug therapy. The researchers found no statistical difference between the treatment groups for the “curative effect.” Given the same clinical effects between the treatment groups, the researchers then compared the cost of care and concluded that acupuncture is a more cost-effective modality for the treatment of herpes zoster.Reference:Journal of Chinese Medicine. 1-2012. Economic Evaluation of Treating Herpes Zoster with Various Methods of Acupuncture and Moxibustion.
- An Italian study, which can read about here, found that,
...acupuncture is as effective as standard drug treatment for acute pain in patients with herpes zoster (HZ).
- A Yale School of Medicine case report, abstract viewable here, found that with a patient whose post herpetic neuralgia was unresponsive to a variety of Western medical treatments responded well to acupuncture,
A comprehensive pain treatment regimen, consisting of a stellate ganglia block, medications, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation and hypnosis, was administered, but the patient did not gain any incremental pain relief.
The acupuncture service was consulted . . . after acupuncture treatment over a 2-month period, the patient's nausea disappeared. Her left facial pain continued to decline from a maximum of 10 to 0 . . .
[their] conclusions, "Acupuncture and its related techniques may be an effective adjunctive treatment for symptoms associated with post herpetic neuralgia and deserve further study."
Acupuncture plus encircled needling and acupuncture plus encircled needling combined with cotton-moxibustion, or with fire needle stimulation, or with tapping and cupping are effective in the treatment of herpes zoster at the acute stage, being comparable to the medication in the clinical curative effect and improvement of blisters, and better than medication in pain relief.