In hot summer, immunity is lowered and the incidence of shingles increases. Herpes zoster is a disease caused by the varicella zoster virus and causes severe blistering and pain on the skin. According to data from the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service, as of 2020, the number of shingles patients is the highest in June, July, and August, and the number of patients in July is about 25% higher than in February. Recently, it occurs a lot in young people, and it is analyzed that the cause is a decrease in immunity due to stress and lack of exercise.
The skin lesions of herpes zoster heal in 2-3 weeks. However, if the pain persists even after the skin rash disappears, it worsens into ‘postherpetic neuralgia’. When neuralgia occurs after herpes zoster, it is difficult to treat, and the severe pain affects daily life. It feels painful just by rubbing it, and in severe cases, it complains of so much pain that even a fan cannot breathe. If the symptoms persist, accompanying symptoms such as depression, insomnia, and anxiety occur, and the memory deteriorates or the risk of dementia increases. Let’s take a look at the oriental treatment of neuralgia after herpes zoster with Professor Seung-Hoon Lee of the Department of Acupuncture at Kyunghee Medical Center.
Antidepressants and anticonvulsants are mainly used for the purpose of controlling pain in postherpetic neuralgia. However, pain is often not properly controlled, and attention to side effects is also necessary. Antidepressants are contraindicated in patients with heart disease and may exacerbate pre-existing cognitive impairment. Anticonvulsants should be used with caution in patients with impaired renal function, and side effects such as drowsiness or dizziness may occur.
For patients who complain of severe pain despite the use of anticonvulsants and antidepressants for treatment, and patients who are already taking many medications and are concerned about side effects due to drug interactions, herbal treatment is effective for pain relief and has fewer side effects. recommend that
In oriental medicine, acupuncture and herbal treatment are performed for postherpetic neuralgia patients. Acupuncture uses electroacupuncture and bee venom acupuncture, and has the advantage of relieving pain without side effects caused by drugs. Electroacupuncture treatment suppresses pain by applying electrical stimulation to acupuncture needles to block the path of pain transmission from the spinal cord to the brain, and by promoting the secretion of neurotransmitters such as beta-endorphin and serotonin from the brain. Bee venom acupuncture is a treatment that dilutes bee venom and injects it, and it is effective for chronic pain caused by local tissue inflammation or nerve damage. For patients with severe pain, treatment begins around the spine, where nerves pass, or at the acupoints on the hands and feet. Based on 2 times a week, depending on the degree of pain relief, reduce the pain reliever you are taking or reduce the number of treatments.
Herbal medicine treatment reduces the increased sympathetic nerve activity by prescribing herbal medicines of the Gamisouric acid series, while the herbal medicines of the Kamiguibitang series improve insomnia and depression, thereby reducing sensitive pain.
Professor Seung-Hoon Lee, Department of Acupuncture, Kyung Hee Korean Medical Hospital, said, “If neuralgia after shingles is prolonged, not only severe pain but also chronic pain such as anxiety, depression, and insomnia occur, and fatigue, digestive disorders, and muscle pain may also occur, which further exacerbates neuralgia.” “By prescribing herbal medicine along with acupuncture, it can help improve accompanying symptoms and reduce pain. “He advised.
On the other hand, Professor Seung-Hoon Lee conducted research on postherpetic neuralgia as a fusion project of intractable neuropathic pain oriental medicine with support from the Health Industry Promotion Agency in 2017. In 2020, the SCI-level journal ‘J Altern Complement Med’ reported that electroacupuncture was administered to patients who complained of moderate or severe pain despite receiving sufficient drug treatment for intractable neuropathic pain, including postherpetic neuralgia, and the pain score decreased. published clinical trial results.