Treatment offers new option for shingles patients

Treatment offers new option for shingles patients

(WAFF) - Shingles, which is like chicken pox, can cause severe pain, scarring and even lost wages.

In the past, treatment included anti-viral medication and oatmeal baths.  Now, doctors are treating it at the base of the nerve. 

This past January Jade LeCroix noticed a rash on her abdomen.  She says it started out small, but as it grew larger, the pain became a major issue.

She was diagnosed with shingles.

"I started an antiviral, right away," said LeCroix.  "[The Doctors] gave me a prescription for pain medicine, and also a prescription for gabapentin which is a medicine for neuropathic pain."

LeCroix had chicken pox as a child.  Once in the body the varicella virus is kept in check by the immune system.

Dr. Morris L. Scherlis, a pain management specialist, says stress can be a trigger.  

"Either your immunity is stressed from steroids, or you're sick or you're getting chemo or just getting older," said Dr. Scherlis.

Treatments a few years ago primarily involved antivirals and oatmeal baths.  These days doctors concentrate on the nerves that are closest to the disease.

"A colleague from work told me about the pain center," said LeCroix.  "How they can give me epidural injections with steroids for pain management for shingles."

Dr. Scherlis explains the medicine is placed next to the spinal cord with an epidural.  

"Literally within 24 hours my pain was gone," said LeCroix.

Doctors recommend patients 60 and older should consider getting the zoster vaccine.

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