Shingles is a very painful skin rash with erupting blisters, usually confined to one or two adjacent localized areas of the skin. These localized areas are called dermatomes A dermatome is a very specific area of skin supplied by nerve roots emerging between spinal vertebra. (1) In my practice, almost all affected shingles dermatomes have been on the trunk of the body, between the neck and waist. The nerves exiting from specific points between the spinal vertebra that are responsible for innervating the skin, wrap around the back side of the truck to the abdomen, much like someone giving you a hug from behind. It is mostly confined to either the left or right side of the truck, However it can also affect other dermatome areas such as the arms, legs, buttocks, feet, or even the scalp, though not as common. It usually affects adults of any age. If the eye becomes infected, blindness can result.
Two to four days before the rash occurs there may be tingling or local pain somewhere near the spinal column. The patient might believe they have a spinal vertebra out of place causing the pains and seek help from a chiropractor.
Singles is caused from a previous chicken pox infection (also called varicella or herpes), usually from childhood. Once the chickenpox has resolved, the virus can remain dormant (inactive) in human nerve cells between the spinal vertebra, located near a spinal disc, more specifically called the dorsal root ganglia, or cranial nerves, for years or decades, after which it may reactivate. Shingles results when the dormant varicella virus is reactivated. The virus then travels along nerve bodies to nerve endings in the skin, producing blisters. Often there is an emotional component of high magnitude that causes the virus to reactivate. Other times it might just be physical stress that cause the virus to reactivate. Stress from chemicals such as chemotherapy can also precipitate a shingles infection.
Shingles vaccines might help prevent shingles and postherpetic neuralgia. The risk of postherpetic neuralgia can become lower if you start taking virus-fighting medicines called antivirals within 72 hours of getting the shingles rash.
Many health professionals suggest rather to let the disease run its natural course, which is usually about two to four weeks. However, some people develop ongoing nerve pain which can last for months, years, or even a lifetime.
If left untreated, by about the third week of the active outbreak of the blisters stage, there is a chance the chicken pox virus can affect the same nerves in the same dermatome in a potential semi-permanent manner. This is called “Post Herpetic Neuralgia (PHN)” and usually results in traumatic, very painful nerve pain that can last for years, It is most prevalent in ages 60 and above. (2)
Frequency Specific Microcurrent (FSM) has been shown to be quite effective in reducing the normal “run” time of shingles in many cases, and in reducing or eliminating the chances of developing post herpetic neuralgia if treated with FSM within the first three weeks of active infection. I have treated several patients in my clinic with good results. Post Herpetic Neuralgia can also be treated with FSM, though by this time the nerve damages are more pronounced and thus more challenging to treat with FSM, but it can be done, it just takes longer to treat.