Send to

Choose Destination
Expert Rev Neurother. 2007 Nov;7(11):1581-95.

Postherpetic neuralgia: epidemiology, pathophysiology and management.

Author information

Bristol Royal Infirmary, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK.


Postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) is a neuropathic pain syndrome and is the most common complication of herpes zoster (HZ; shingles). PHN occurs mainly in HZ patients 60 years of age and older, in particular in those suffering from more severe acute pain and rash. Administration of antiviral drugs reduces the duration of pain associated with HZ. The pathophysiology of PHN may be distinctly different between patients with either reduced or increased skin sensitivity. Therapy is with tricyclic drugs (e.g., nortriptyline), alpha 2 delta-ligands (e.g., gabapentin) or opiates with adjunctive topical lidocaine or capsaicin. Mechanism-based therapy is a desirable goal but so far proves elusive. The incidence of HZ, and therefore that of PHN, is likely to increase as a result of greater longevity and increasing numbers of patients receiving treatment that compromises cell-mediated immunity. A zoster vaccine for administration to adults reduces the incidence of HZ and PHN, as well as the burden of illness associated with these conditions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Taylor & Francis
Loading ...
Support Center