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Treatment of shingles by Chinese and western acupuncture


Shingles (Herpes zoster) or post-herpetic neuralgia is the most common disorder in general practice as well as in pain clinics. The patient with shingles should be treated within 48-72 hours of its onset in order to achieve an optimal management. The main cause of shingle is by reactivation of latent varicella-zoster virus (chickenpox virus) which is lying dormant for many years in the root of a spinal nerve in the brain or spinal cord (along the distribution of one single spinal nerve around the trunk, down the arm and buttock or down the leg).

The reactivation is usually brought up by stresses (physical, emotional or climatic stresses) or by the loss of natural immunity, such as in various chronic infections. Usually, shingles can be a very severe infection that could cause post-herpetic neuralgia with a long lasting pain. It is estimated that 20% of patients who had chicken pox before could develop shingles at some time during their lives.
There is no obvious cause to reactivate the shingle virus in a healthy person.  However, usually the weakness in the immune system may lead to strengthen the virus and to move it along the intercostal nerve fibers. So that why aging or suppression of the immune system might be a factor in reviving the virus.
Shingle presentation is usually characterized by initial symptoms of flulike such as fever, chills, and gastrointestinal symptoms for few days. Then it followed by developing skin lesions of an extensive vesicular rash and well circumscribed, erythematous, maculo-papular skin eruptions that follow sensory dermatomes. The skin lesions are mainly unilateral and usually involve the area over the chest or some time the face. The skin rash may involve the trigeminal and cervical nerves which may also be associated with paralysis of the facial nerve and loss of taste.
The Western Medical treatment of shingle is usually used the anti-viral drugs and corticosteroid. In majority of cases such treatment failed to clear the condition or to show any improvement.  But the medical research literature has showed that a successful use of Traditional Chinese acupuncture combined with low-level laser and electro-acupuncture can manage both the acute attack of shingle and the complicated form of post herpetic neuralgia (usually referred to as an intercostal neuralgia).  The cause of shingles in traditional Chinese acupuncture is illustrated by the invasion of causative factors such as exogenous Wind and Cold. These factors can invade the Chinese meridians and will lead to disruption of the energy flow of Qi and Blood, preventing the vessels and muscles from receiving the necessary nourishment.
Finally, the conventional medical treatment is not always successful and has some unwanted side effects and very expensive. While acupuncture has been proved to be very effective in clearing signs and symptoms of shingle and the combination of manual cupuncture,  electro-acupuncture and laser treatment  may achieve a full recovery, sometime in only three weeks. Our recent clinical research on showed the great success of combined laser, electrical and manual acupuncture in treatment of shingle and post-herpetic neuralgia (please see the article in:
http://www.electroacupunctureknowledge.com/mayor_database/AA/DEHerdata22.htm