15 Mar How Shingles Can Lead to Non-Cardiac Chest Pain
Non-cardiac chest pain may not be life-threatening, but it can sure feel like it. Such pain can be especially severe when it is the result of shingles. It is not uncommon for people in the early stages of shingles to experience chest pain in the days or weeks before a rash actually appears. That pain can be confused with cardiac pain.
We have a variety of treatments to help people suffering from long-lasting chest pain brought on by shingles. Obviously, any treatment recommended to you would be based on your current health, your circumstances, and other appropriate factors. As for non-cardiac shingles pain, let us talk about what causes it.
A Viral Infection
Shingles is a disease caused by a viral infection. The virus, known as varicella-zoster, is the same virus that causes chickenpox. Just note that shingles and chickenpox are not the same disease. Unfortunately, anyone who has had chicken pox has the virus continuously living in their body. It can always reactivate later and cause shingles.
Statistics demonstrate that shingles can affect people of any age. However, you are at greater risk of developing the disease at age 50 and older. According to the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) about half of those adults who live to at least 85 years of age will experience shingles.
Overall, some one million patients are diagnosed with shingles every year. By and large, the number one complaint among them is pain. Shingles pain can be mild to severe. Among those who complain of serious pain, at least some of them are temporarily debilitated by it.
Shingles and Inflamed Nerves
The interesting thing about shingles is that pain can begin to manifest itself long before the rash associated with the disease ever appears. Shingles pain is the result of inflamed nerves near the surface of the skin. In a person suffering non-cardiac chest pain caused by shingles, it is easy to confuse the pain with a cardiac issue – especially if the disease attacks the left side of the body.
In addition to pain, patients are known to experience burning sensations along with numbness, tingling, and itching. Eventually, most patients will develop the telltale rash that appears as a band or stripe around one side of the torso. Shingles can also occur on the face and neck.
Long-Term Shingles Pain
Unfortunately, one of shingles’ complications is long-term pain that continues even after the rash is gone. This type of pain is known as postherpetic neuralgia. It is the result of nerve damage caused by the disease itself. It can linger for weeks, months, or even years.
The big issue with postherpetic neuralgia is that the nerves send exaggerated pain signals to the brain. The patient could be completely disease-free and left with only minor nerve damage. But because the nerves are damaged, they can be extremely sensitive to even the slightest touch. That means something that would barely prove uncomfortable for someone else could cause intense pain to the shingles patient.
You Do Have Options
As someone who has had shingles, we want you to know that you have treatment options. Continuing to suffer from non-cardiac chest pain as a result of the disease doesn’t have to define the rest of your life. We would appreciate the opportunity to sit and discuss treatment options with you at your earliest convenience.
Shingles is one of those diseases that people dread because they have heard so many stories about the pain associated with it. No doubt the condition can be quite painful. But effective treatments are available.