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J Hand Surg Br. 2005 Aug;30(4):355-7.

Herpes zoster in the ulnar nerve distribution.

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  • 1Hand and Upper Limb Centre, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada.


Varicella zoster is a ubiquitous virus which usually affects school-aged children as Chicken Pox. While the initial disease is self-limiting and seldom severe, the virus remains in the body. It lies dormant in the dorsal root ganglia and reactivation may occur years later with variable presentations as Herpes Zoster, or Shingles. While Shingles is common, it rarely presents exclusively in the upper extremity. It is important that hand surgeons recognize the possibility of zoster infection, with or without a rash, when evaluating the onset of neuralgia in a dermatomal distribution in the upper limb. Early diagnosis allows rapid and appropriate treatment, with a lower risk of complications. We report on a case of Herpes Zoster isolated to the ulnar nerve distribution in a young woman.

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