Shingles: Where Do They Come From?

Any individual who has had chickenpox as a child will shudder at the memory and feel glad that it is never going to happen again. Unfortunately, the varicella zoster virus (VZV) that causes chickenpox remains dormant in your immune system and may react into a painful condition called shingles.

Although the reason for this reactivation remains unknown, it is critical to understand its severity and early symptoms to prevent serious complications. In fact, studies by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that approximately 1 out of every 3 people in the United States will develop shingles throughout their lifetime.

How Shingles Start

Once the virus has reactivated, it travels through the body’s nervous system out towards the skin and appears in the form of a painful rash. Due to its origins in the nerve roots, shingles occurs on an isolated area of the body, typically the back, neck or under one eye. The condition develops in 3 stages, as follows:

  • Prodromal stage
    • Flu-like symptoms
    • Sensitivity to light
    • Itching
  • Active stage
    • Red patches
    • Rash
    • Fluid-filled blisters
  • Postherpetic neuralgia
    • Prolonged pain in the formerly affected area
    • Extreme sensitivity to touch

Individuals who are at a higher risk of contracting shingles are those with weakened immune systems, such as those over the age of 60, those under extreme stress, sufferers of cancer or HIV, chemotherapy patients, and organ transplant patients.

Do Shingles Spread?

While shingles does not spread from one person to another, the VZV virus can spread from a shingles sufferer to someone who has never had chickenpox. The healthy individual would then be at an elevated risk of developing chickenpox – but not shingles. Furthermore, the condition is spread only through direct contact with the blisters during the active stage, which makes it important to avoid sensitive individuals and wash your hands frequently during that time.

Who Treats Shingles?

Because shingles is classified as a disorder of the nervous system, the ideal specialist to seek for treatment is a pain management physician. Coastal Orthopedics Sports Medicine & Pain Management is the proud home of 4 such specialists, as follows:

  • Richard H. Bundschu, M.D. – Pain Management Specialist
  • Douglas L. Constant, M.D. – Pain Management Specialist
  • Gennady Gekht, M.D. – Pain Management Specialist
  • Laura B. Ottaviani, D.O. – Rehabilitation Specialist

Although each case is different, you can rest assured that our Sarasota/Bradenton pain management experts are committed to helping you relieve pain and combat your symptoms in a highly efficient manner. If you suspect that you have shingles, keep yourself and everyone around you safe and call or visit one of our treatment centers as soon as possible. We look forward to assisting you!