Do I have PHN?

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Here’s my background, what do you think?  I was 25 when I had shingles on my lower back. Small rash, 3” in diameter. No pain, blistering, or discomfort. It went away no issues. Fast forward 6 months. No issues. Healthy, active, young. I’m laying in bed and twist my right leg over my left, and my left arm past my right shoulder to stretch my back. I was getting a good stretch when I felt the urge to yawn. So I start to yawn and as I reach the peak of my yawn my breath peaked in an inhale and holy cow sudden sharp stabbing pain to my left chest. Can’t breath. Jump out of bed in a panic as every inhale I try to take feels like someone is tearing a pencil through my rib cage. Absolutely excruciating. Can’t talk. Barely breathe. Vomit from pain. Fall asleep sitting up. Pain persists for a full day. The following 4 months I couldn’t laugh without the tearing/stabbing feeling. Not exaggerating when I say I would rather have a grown man punch me in the face every 5 min than experience that pain. The following 3 years have consisted of regular pain. Sometimes severe, sometimes aching. I can no longer do physical activity. Walking, Twisting, lifting all cause pain. It’s not a superficial pain. I can touch my skin no problem. The pain feels as if someone has torn the muscle from my chest. Or that a rib has punctured my lung. I have no sensitivity to temperature or pin pricks. But applying pressure on my chest hurts always. It always feels bruised and sometimes is more painful than others.  As I mentioned, this happened 3.5 yrs ago, 5 months after a mild pain free case of shingles in my LOWER back. 4-5 vertebrae lower than where my chest pain lines up (at my T6). So the question is, what are the chances that this is from shingles? Do I have PHN? 

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  • Posted

    See your primary doctor to consult with a dermatologist, neurologist or both. Since I am not qualified to say yes or no whether you have PHN, it’s best to see the above medical specialists for proper diagnosis and/or medical treatment. Wish you the best.
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  • Posted

    Hi Tish omg ur so young for this I’m so sorry. Everything u have described is exactly what I feel each day for the past year and I’m 42. I think it sounds like PHN unfortunately there is no real test. Have u tried any of the medications or treatments for PHN? And if so did any of them make a difference? I know how it feels to have shingles with no real battle scars to show but yet ur insides r saying HELP ME!! I had shingles under my right breast and being a little overweight I just thought it was a heat/sweat rash not knowing it was shingles it was only when I kept vomiting with pain on my right side that I had to go to the emergency room where they informed me that I had shingles. I’m very stubborn and also have a very high threshold for pain ( 3 kids with no pain killers) that’s why I didn’t go before as I thought I was just exhausted ohhhh how everyday I regret leaving it so late maybe if I had gone earlier....... 1 year later I can’t  brush my teeth, brush my falling hair, wear a bra/clothes touching my chest and right side or even cuddle my beautiful children as the smallest touch or movement kills me. My life has completely changed from being a fun loving lady to a weeping pile of tissues my husband has to take me everywhere in a wheelchair because even the movement of walking and the movement of air/wind passing my chest causes severe pain. I feel like I’m sitting on a electric chair being constantly electrocuted in the deep depths of a burning volcano while being trampled by a heard of wild horses. All I can say to u is DONT give up try everything what can u lose have faith that one day u could wake up and it could be gone. I know how easy it is to give into this pain trust me I KNOW but surely (I keep asking myself) there’s a reason I have this maybe it’s so I can support others like ur message has helped me knowing I’m not the only one. I try to look on the bright side I’m always telling my husband  “u tell me how lucky r u to come home to a wife with no bra or top on when u come home” 😉see there’s always a bright side. Good luck my friend and remember ur not alone 😀regards Angie 

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  • Posted

    Oof, sorry you are dealing with that. It sounds brutal. As to your question, I would ask a neurologist. They may have an opinion. I also wonder whether taking the common meds for PHN would give you relief/ tell you anything. One thing I learned, when the shingles first appeared and I didn't know what was causing my nerve pain, is that no physical manipulations helped: chiropractor, p.t., nothing changed anything. But gabapentin helped a lot. So I listened to the neurologist's advice that with PHN, doing movements or exercise was not hurting the nerves: even if it increased the nerve pain, it didn't mean I was doing any damage. This made me braver and I got back into exercise slowly, and pain is resolving. Maybe it would have anyway; but the message to  mentally separate pain from movement was useful as it let me get back into regular life. So the way my neurologist explained gabapentin's action is that it helps the brain get used to the pain.

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  • Posted

    Doesn’t sound like PHN with such a delay in onset after a rash that occurred without pain. Sounds musculoskeletal, but I would see a physiatrist (not the same as a psychiatrist). They specialize in such cases of pain. 
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