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Case Studies

chief complaint: shingles pain (post herpetic neuralgia)

A healthy, active 72 year old woman complained of shingles pain for 5 months following an episode of flu. The pain was severe, with a burning sensation, itching, and red raised blisters extending along her left shoulder blade, armpit, breast, and nipple. On a scale of 0-10 where 0 represents no pain at all and 10 represents the worst pain imaginable, her pain was a 10/10. The pain was worse in the morning and evening. Nothing seemed to relieve it except hot showers, which decreased the stinging itch. Her primary care physician prescribed an antiviral medication, which was of no apparent benefit. After that she used Advil daily. She began acupuncture treatment after three months, at which time she rated her pain as 9/10.

In addition to the pain, this patient was very fatigued and slept poorly, waking a few times each night. Both knees were swollen and sore with arthritis. Frequently constipated, she had a history of irritable bowel syndrome.

Acupuncture treatment provided this patient with rapid pain relief. After 2 sessions, she was much more comfortable and began to reduce her Advil use. Her pain spiked to 5/10 at its worst times but was gone much of the day. The extremely painful burning was cleared up after 4 sessions, returning only intermittently. The itching decreased more slowly over 8 sessions. The affected area shrank steadily. After 8 sessions she felt well, with only slight itching remaining.

This patientís overall energy and sleep were much improved. Her knee pain was reduced after each session for 3 days or more. A mild combination of herbs greatly relieved her constipation. This patient paid $570 for 9 sessions and was very satisfied with her acupuncture care.

text copyright @2001 by
Meredith St. John
Boston, MA