Shingles hurts. So much focus gets put on the skin rash but for most folks, the skin rash is pretty secondary to the whole thing. It's the nerve that is being inflamed by the shingles virus that is screaming painful. Any nerve can be affected and from there the pain radiates along three circuits, or so the doctors have said. In my case, the virus attached itself to my sciatic nerve. A lot of folks get it in their optic nerve, which personally I think would be way worse. And that's saying a LOT, because shingles in the sciatic nerve is very very painful.
In a previous post, I wrote about alternating ice packs and warm baths to help cope with the pain of shingles. While that method does help, it requires significant time investment. I went searching for more immediate relief. Before I get to that, let me just say that when I first started my desperate quest for a diagnosis, I was given several doses of morphine by the first doctor. Morphine took the edge off the pain very very briefly (hence the several doses). Effectively, it was useless against shingles pain.
That doctor also gave me a prescription for 5mg of percoset which proved to be equally ineffective. Another doctor upped the dose to 7.5mg of percoset. That worked better, but I would only be pain free for 3 hours of a 6 hour dose - but loopy throughout. The small amount of pain relief coupled with the loopiness made me shelve percoset. Besides which, percoset is an addictive narcotic and not something I wanted to rely upon to begin with.
My search for more viable pain relief led me to ask my doctor if I'd be a candidate for the Lidoderm patch. She thought I would so she kindly wrote a prescription. So far, I'm pretty impressed. The pain for me runs back to front so I cut the patch in two and put half over the pain point in the back and the other half in the front.
You cannot put the lidocaine patch on the rash itself! This is very important! I was extremely fortunate that my rash was tiny to begin with and in an area that was off to the side of the worst pain points so I was able to sandwich the patch in just fine.
Relief from the patch comes in about 20 minutes. It's the same level of relief (aka pretty darn good) that would ordinarily take me 4 hours of alternating cold and heat to the area. Coupled with my Tagament trial, I'm feeling hopefully optimistic. I'll keep you posted.