The skin rash from the chickenpox suffered at youth may disappear, however, the virus is not eradicated from the system; rather, it moves to the spinal nerves and stays dormant(inactive). In some cases, the dormant virus may become reactive when the host’s immune system is weakened, causing inflammation in the spinal nerves, causing pain and vesicles(blisters) along the innervated skin areas.
Skin rash is preceded by pain, usually by several days.
The rash develops into blisters; the condition worsens until its healing, usually lasting a month, yet leaves skin discoloration.
The pain is localized to the inflamed nerves, causing paresthesia and extreme pain.
Shingles should be aggressively treated in the early stages, as the failure to do so may lead to the development of neuralgia.
Postherpetic neuralgia is a nerve pain accompanied by paresthesia, following the healing of shingles. The condition is diagnosed in case the pain lingers for 4~6 months after the outbreak of skin rash.
The incidence rate is higher if the outbreak of shingles occurred at an older age. The incidence rate of postherpetic neuralgia is also higher if the level of acute pain was high, or if the lesions were severe.
Intercostal nerves are located in between the ribs; the abnormal condition of these nerves cause pain originating from the back, across the ribs to the chest. Usually, only one side of the body is affected from the condition, but in some cases both sides are affected.
The level of pain may range from pinprick pain to radiating pain to painful to the touch. The pain may exacerbate while taking deep breaths or coughing
Extensive examination such as MRI of the spine and lung CT is vital, as intercostal neuralgia may be a symptom of other medical illnesses such as lung or heart disorders, or serious diseases such as spinal tumors, etc.