Acupuncture for Shingles

Acupuncture for Shingles

Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same one responsible for chickenpox. It can remain dormant in a person’s system for years, hiding in nerve tissues near the spinal cord and brain, after contracting chickenpox.

Many years later, (usually in adults over 50, although it can occur in younger people), the virus can reactivate and cause a painful rash which occurs usually on one side of the body. The reason for this one-sided distribution is not fully understood by medical science. It is believed to be related to the specific nerve pathways that the virus follows during reactivation as it travels to the skin, causing the painful, itchy, blister-type rash that typically appears in a band or strip on one side of the body and takes between two to four weeks to clear up.

Dr Ma, our acupuncture specialist, says that acupuncture for shingles can help by reducing the pain and inflammation, and boosting the immune system, to promote overall healing. The insertion of the thin acupuncture needles is done by an acupuncture doctor, like Dr Ma, who has spent many years studying which specific points on the body will stimulate energy flow and restore balance when a person is suffering from a bout of shingles.

Dr Ma explains that a flare-up of shingles can be triggered by various factors, including stress, weakened immune system, aging, certain medications or medical conditions, and trauma or injury to the affected area.

To avoid shingles, maintaining a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise, a balanced diet, and stress management can keep the virus in check.

Although it may sound counter-intuitive to have needles in your body to treat you for stress, the needles are so thin and go in with a quick flick – nothing like the larger needles used by conventional doctors, that you hardly feel them and come away from a session feeling relaxed. “Some patients even fall asleep while undergoing treatment,” laughs Dr Ma, “And I have to wake them gently when the treatment is over.”

So, is there proof that acupuncture works? I ask. Dr Ma smiles as he mentions that a study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that acupuncture significantly reduced pain intensity and improved quality of life in patients with post herpetic neuralgia (a complication of shingles). He also mentions that a study showed that acupuncture combined with anti-viral therapy was more effective than medication alone in reducing pain and improving sleep quality in patients with acute herpes zoster – that’s the other name for the varicella-zoster virus. He can quote numerous other studies too but we won’t bore you with them here.

If you are keen to avoid shingles or need treatment, then give Zhou Wellness a call and make an appointment with Dr Ma who will assist you in getting your body back into balance.