Can Acupuncture treat Shingles pain?
Shingles or Herpes Zoster is caused by the same virus that causes Chickenpox. This is not to be confused with Herpes Simplex which causes the sexually transmitted disease.
The Shingles virus affects the nerve endings of the skin and most often begins with fever, chills and general achiness. This progresses to an intensely painful stripe of blisters most commonly on the side of the body. Unfortunately, the blisters can appear anywhere on the body, even the face. Shingles is most common in 60-80 year olds and it is estimated that fifty percent of all Americans will have had Shingles by the time they are 80 years old.
How does Shingles occur? Childhood chicken pox contracted by most individuals lies dormant in the nerves and spinal cord for years until it is reactivated. An estimated 90% of people who have had Chickenpox are at risk of developing Shingles. Shingles can be activated through great emotional stress or by a weakened immune system due to medications or chronic illness.
In certain individuals, pain remains long after the blisters have healed. This is called Post Herpetic Neuralgia. This occurs when damaged nerve endings send incorrect messages to the brain. Symptoms can last for months or even years.
Taking a bath or using cool wet compresses is effective in reducing the pain. St John Wort’s oil applied topically may also be helpful (see your doctor before applying). It is also important to avoid saturated fats and refined sugars/foods as these can further aggravate inflammation.
Acupuncture is effective in treating Shingles and Post Herpetic Neuralgia. During the outbreak the goal is to reduce pain and promote healing. Hair thin Acupuncture needles are placed close to the site of the activated nerves. These needles are wired to a very mild electrical stimulation similar to the TENS device used by many Physical Therapists and Chiropractors. The treatment goal is to deactivate the nerves and put the virus back in to dormancy. It has been shown to significantly reduce the intensity and duration of symptoms.
Acupuncture is also effective in strengthening the immune system and reducing stress to prevent further outbreaks. The strategy is always to determine what may have caused this outbreak or allowed it to happen? What can we do to prevent this from occurring again?
Acupuncture is becoming accepted as standard care for Shingles. Although Medicare itself does not cover Acupuncture at this time, many Medicare secondary Insurance plans and Retirement plans do cover Acupuncture. Please don’t hesitate to contact Green Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine with questions. We can be reached at 561-244-5424 or our website at www.greenacumed.com
Acupuncture Shingles Treatment