Although it has been demonstrated conclusively that anti-viral medication reduces the duration and intensity of the manifestations of acute herpes zoster, controversy remains concerning its effectiveness in preventing post herpetic neuralgia and patients with this distressing condition are often referred to Pain Clinics. The problem is likely to become more prevalent in the future due to the ageing population, particularly in those over 80 years of age.
Research, most of it uncontrolled so far, suggests that simple acupuncture starting in the acute phase, within 24–72 hours of the appearance of the skin eruption, could, if combined with anti-viral medication, produce a substantial reduction in the incidence and severity of post herpetic neuralgia. Further controlled clinical trials conducted at primary health care level are urgently needed.
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