Until this report in the New England Journal of Medicine, there was no effective treatment for post-herpetic neuralgia, permanent nerve damage caused by a recurrence of an infection with chicken pox virus.

The first time a person develops chicken pox, blisters break out on the skin and the virus remains in nerves forever. For one of six, the virus comes out a second time (shingles), causing severe pain for two to eight weeks, followed by grouped blisters in the distribution of one nerve on one side of the body. If treated early with Famvir or Valtrex, a person has seven percent chance of suffering permanent nerve damage. Without early treatment, he has a 50 percent chance of having horrible pain in that nerve for the rest of his life. This report shows that injecting 60 mg of methyl prednisone directly into the spinal fluid, once a week for four weeks, lessens and even cures the pain.

NEJM November 23, 2000


Get our newsletter