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Shingles: Acupuncture Treatment

Shingles, caused by the reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus (which also causes chickenpox), often affects older adults and individuals with weakened immune systems. While the acute phase of shingles is generally benign, postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), a chronic complication characterized by severe nerve pain, can significantly impact the quality of life. Many conventional medications often prove ineffective in treating this pain, leading to patient despair. Acupuncture not only can significantly reduce the incidence and severity of PHN when administered early in the acute phase of shingles but also offers relief from the pain of PHN itself.

Using acupuncture points local to or near the affected skin lesions has been recognized as an effective way to control both shingles and its associated pain.

Acupuncture is particularly effective and superior to pharmacotherapy during the acute phase of shingles. This effectiveness has been substantiated by extensive clinical practice. Early initiation of acupuncture treatment for acute shingles is generally advocated. While early acupuncture therapy cannot completely prevent the onset of PHN, it can significantly reduce the likelihood and severity of PHN.

Many successful cases of treating shingles and PHN with acupuncture have been reported. Combining selective pharmacotherapy with alternative treatments, including acupuncture, can provide satisfactory pain relief for most patients suffering from PHN.



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