Peter Hibberd, M.D., is a doctor whose advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital outpatient and inpatient experience. He is an experienced emergency medicine physician, surgeon, and consultant. Dr. Hibberd is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He is also a fellow and active member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, an active member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a member and fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Hibberd has earned numerous national and international professional certifications, memberships, and awards.
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Acupuncture Best for Shingles?

Tuesday, 31 Aug 2010 09:08 AM

Question: What is your opinion of acupuncture? The drugs I was given to control my shingles pain made me violently ill. A Chinese medicine doctor did three acupuncture treatments in 10 days, and the pain left and never came back.


Dr. Hibberd's Answer:

Shingles is a painful reactivation of the chickenpox virus along a nerve path in the skin almost always on one side of the body. It's accompanied by a painful skin rash with blisters. Bilateral involvement suggests malignancy.

Conventional medications with antiviral (Zovirax or Valtrex) combined with oral pain meds and (often) a six-day steroid pulse pack, will relieve most cases very well. Topical creams are a waste of money.

Some patients have minimal discomfort, while others have severe pain that may continue well beyond the healing of the skin lesions. A few may develop a painful condition called post-herpetic neuralgia.

Your response to acupuncture has been remarkable. I have not seen such a dramatic response to acupuncture. In the West, we do not use acupuncture and allied modalities as frequently as countries such as China that have a stronger acupuncture following.

I suppose our oral and injectable medications may occasionally seem aggressive, yet the results are consistently good when used appropriately and create very few side effects in the large majority of patients (except you!).

In any event, it sounds like you have recovered. Thanks for sharing your experience. We all like to have treatment options and like to hear of good results.

Note: Do not forget to consider a shingles vaccination to prevent shingles. It is a single-dose vaccine especially for those age 60 and older and includes patients who have had a prior shingles outbreak.



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