David G. Webb, D.O.M., P.A.
Shingles is caused by an infection of the nerves with one of the herpes viruses, herpes zoster. This is the same virus that causes Chicken Pox, and in fact, you can only get shingles if you have previously had Chicken Pox. After Chicken Pox heal, the virus remains in the body for the life of the host, but becomes dormant in the nerve roots next to the spine. During times of high stress, or in people who have suppressed immunity, the herpes zoster virus can be re-activated, traveling down the course of the nerve to erupt in painful blisters. This new outbreak is called Shingles, even though it is caused by the Chicken Pox virus. It only manifests as Chicken Pox the first time you are infected. All subsequent outbreaks manifest as Shingles. You can only have Chicken Pox once, but you can have multiple outbreaks of Shingles. If you have already had Chicken Pox as a child, you are safe to be in contact with someone who has either Chicken Pox or Shingles. That contact will not give you Chicken Pox again and it will not give you Shingles. Only re-activation of the virus that's already inside you will give you Shingles. If you have never had Chicken Pox, you should avoid all contact with anyone who has Chicken Pox or an acute Shingles outbreak. Although you cannot get Shingles from someone who has Shingles, you CAN become infected if you have never had Chicken Pox and it will manifest as Chicken Pox. Then, later in life you have the potential of a Shingles outbreak. A confusing and tricky little virus, indeed!
How do you know if you have Shingles?
The signs and symptoms of a Shingles outbreak are usually easily recognizable, but occasionally they are misdiagnosed as muscle pain and/or non-Shingles rashes. It is important to quickly diagnose and treat Shingles, since untreated, the outbreak can be extensive and extremely painful. One of the tell-tale signs of Shingles is that the rash and blisters are, with very few exceptions, isolated to only one side of the body, not crossing the mid-line. The first symptoms, called the prodromal stage, are pain in the skin and muscles, sometimes misdiagnosed as a muscle strain. The difference is that the skin is also very painful and sensitive to touch. Even light clothing brushing up against the area of skin affected can be quite painful. In this initial stage there is no rash or blisters. This stage can last for several days. After the prodromal stage, the painful area breaks out with a rash and small, fluid-filled, painful blisters. Even with conventional pharmaceutical treatment, this stage can last for several weeks. When the rash and blisters resolve, it simply means the virus has become dormant again. Currently there are no conventional treatments that can completely eliminate herpes zoster from the body.
The conventional approach to treating Shingles involves use of anti-viral pharmaceutical drugs, such as Acyclovir or Valtrex. Anti-viral medicines are not as quick acting as antibiotics and do not kill herpes zoster. Rather, they shorten the course of the outbreak, shortening the time until the virus again becomes dormant. But in reality, this often still means weeks of excruciating pain until the virus goes completely dormant again. This brings up the question, are there non-pharmaceutical approaches that can more quickly result in viral dormancy and pain relief? The answer, from my own clinical experience, is a definite YES!
In San Francisco, in the 1920s, a group of M.D.s lead by Dr. Albert Abrams, did pioneering research into the use of specific electromagnetic frequencies to heal various ailments. One such frequency pair, 230Hz and 430Hz applied together were found to be useful in resolving infection. Modern clinical application of these two frequencies, using a micro amperage current intensity, has led to the discovery that these two frequencies, although applicable to viral infections in general, are very specific to the class of herpes viruses, including herpes zoster. The modern application of this technology that evolved from Dr. Abrams' discovery is called Frequency Specific Microcurrent (FSM). It is a completely painless and non-invasive treatment that has quickly become the most effective treatment available to date for resolving the pain, rash and blisters associated with Shingles.
The "MAGIC" of FSM
In the "Non-Pharmacologic Treatment of Shingles" published in Practical Pain Management in 2010, Dr. Carolyn McMakin, the creator of modern FSM, has observed that the widespread use of the FSM Shingles protocol has resulted in a very predictable treatment outcome. If treatment begins in the prodromal stage, before any rash or blisters are seen, a single two hour treatment will usually eliminate the associated pain within about 20 minutes and cause the virus to immediately go dormant again, ending the acute outbreak. If treatment begins after the rash and blisters have appeared, following a single two hour treatment the pain usually goes away completely within 20 minutes and the blisters dry up and heal in about 48 hours. Further treatments are usually not needed if treatment is given soon after the first onset of symptoms. I have even treated patients with severe outbreaks that crossed the mid-line of the body and were initially misdiagnosed, resulting in the FSM treatments beginning many weeks after the initial symptoms. In these cases, FSM was still able to give immediate pain relief and cause the virus to quickly go dormant, even when conventional treatment was offering no pain relief and the rash and blisters were continuing to worsen. With just a few treatments, all evidence of the shingles outbreak were completely gone.
"What if my Shingles healed, but I still have pain?"
In some instances, the pain from Shingles can persist long after the rash and blisters have disappeared. This very painful condition is called Post Herpetic Neuralgia. Post Herpetic Neuralgia is the most common cause of suicide in patients with chronic pain over the age of 70 in the United States and Western Europe. Because the treatment of Post Herpetic Neuralgia does not yield as quick and dramatic relief as in the treatment of acute Shingles, it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of an acute Shingles outbreak, and to be evaluated and treated immediately by an experienced physician.
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