Postherpetic Neuralgia: The Importance of Preventing This Intractable End-Stage Disorder

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An argument is presented here for postherpetic neuralgia as an intractable end-stage disorder for many patients. The exciting possibility of prevention of this disorder by early, aggressive treatment exists; however, the extent to which therapy can be effective is unknown. Early, aggressive treatment of the pain of herpes zoster is, nevertheless, urged, and the options for treatment are discussed. These options include antiviral therapy within the first 72 h, if possible, from the onset of rash or radicular pain and the use of analgesics, including opioids (if necessary), nerve blocks, and early antidepressant therapy. In addition, the extent to which vaccination of older adults will prevent postherpetic neuralgia is unknown but appears to hold promise.

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