Post-herpetic neuralgia is a highly unpleasant condition. Acupuncture has been used for a number of neuralgias, for some of which we have prepared factsheets on our website, but the factsheet for post-herpetic neuralgia is still in preparation. There are some encouraging signs from recent research, as in this Italian study of severe pain during the zoster attack
but no conclusive evidence accepted in the West as yet on which we could base a firm recommendation.
However, post-herpetic pain has been around as long as mankind, and the diagnostic systems of Chinese medicine have been used for many centuries to make sense of the way that the pain presents. Treatment is often a complex mixture of treatment local to the area of pain and more systemic treatment to correct the imbalances from which the treatment stems.
Whichever system of medicine is used to treat post-herpetic neuralogia a practitioner will always be understandably cautious about the outcome. This is one of a number of conditions which can prove intractable to treatment, and while it is fair to say that a central question for an acupuncture practitioner is how much change and how sustainable, for conditions like these there is often a period of short term relief which is not progressive, i.e. treatment will achieve the same result but not necessarily extend that period of relief. We expect our members to be alert to this kind of situation and to comunicate clearly with patients about their findings. After all, even a short period of relief may be something which a patient is prepared to accept, but it is important that this becomes the clear understanding of what is happening.
One of the great strengths of Chinese medicine, though, is that it treats the person, not the disease, and since from this perspective everyone is unique, as is their disease pattern, there will be cases where more progress may be possible. Seeking advice from a BAcC member in a brief face to face chat may be the best way to establish the extent to which acupuncture may be able to help your specific case.