Items in AFP with MESH term: Neuralgia
ABSTRACT: The recognizable appearance and the dermatomal distribution of herpes zoster lesions usually enable a clinical diagnosis to be made easily. Herpes zoster and postherpetic neuralgia occur mainly in older patients. The role of the varicella vaccine in preventing herpes zoster is uncertain, but is being studied. There is evidence to support using antiviral therapy and possibly low-dose tricyclic antidepressants to prevent postherpetic neuralgia. There is good evidence that treating herpes zoster with antiviral medication is beneficial, particularly in patients older than 50 years with severe outbreaks. The use of steroids has an unfavorable risk-benefit ratio. In patients who develop postherpetic neuralgia, there is good evidence to support treatment with gabapentin and tricyclic antidepressants. More evidence for treatment with capsaicin cream, lidocaine patch, and opioids is needed. Intrathecal methylprednisolone is an option for patients with persistent pain.
ABSTRACT: Herpes zoster (commonly referred to as "shingles") and postherpetic neuralgia result from reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus acquired during the primary varicella infection, or chickenpox. Whereas varicella is generally a disease of childhood, herpes zoster and post-herpetic neuralgia become more common with increasing age. Factors that decrease immune function, such as human immunodeficiency virus infection, chemotherapy, malignancies and chronic corticosteroid use, may also increase the risk of developing herpes zoster. Reactivation of latent varicella-zoster virus from dorsal root ganglia is responsible for the classic dermatomal rash and pain that occur with herpes zoster. Burning pain typically precedes the rash by several days and can persist for several months after the rash resolves. With postherpetic neuralgia, a complication of herpes zoster, pain may persist well after resolution of the rash and can be highly debilitating. Herpes zoster is usually treated with orally administered acyclovir. Other antiviral medications include famciclovir and valacyclovir. The antiviral medications are most effective when started within 72 hours after the onset of the rash. The addition of an orally administered corticosteroid can provide modest benefits in reducing the pain of herpes zoster and the incidence of postherpetic neuralgia. Ocular involvement in herpes zoster can lead to rare but serious complications and generally merits referral to an ophthalmologist. Patients with postherpetic neuralgia may require narcotics for adequate pain control. Tricyclic antidepressants or anticonvulsants, often given in low dosages, may help to control neuropathic pain. Capsaicin, lidocaine patches and nerve blocks can also be used in selected patients.
Common Infections in Older Adults - Article
ABSTRACT: Infectious diseases account for one third of all deaths in people 65 years and older. Early detection is more difficult in the elderly because the typical signs and symptoms, such as fever and leukocytosis, are frequently absent. A change in mental status or decline in function may be the only presenting problem in an older patient with an infection. An estimated 90 percent of deaths resulting from pneumonia occur in people 65 years and older. Mortality resulting from influenza also occurs primarily in the elderly. Urinary tract infections are the most common cause of bacteremia in older adults. Asymptomatic bacteriuria occurs frequently in the elderly; however, antibiotic treatment does not appear to be efficacious. The recent rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria (e.g., methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and vancomycin-resistant enterococcus) is a particular problem in the elderly because they are exposed to infections at higher rates in hospital and institutional settings. Treatment of colonization and active infection is problematic; strict adherence to hygiene practices is necessary to prevent the spread of resistant organisms.
Antidepressants for the Treatment of Neuropathic Pain - Cochrane for Clinicians
Systemic Lidocaine or Mexiletine for Neuropathic Pain - Cochrane for Clinicians
Tramadol Relieves Neuropathic Pain - Cochrane for Clinicians
Guillain-Barre Syndrome - Article
ABSTRACT: Guillain-Barré syndrome consists of a group of neuropathic conditions characterized by progressive weakness and diminished or absent myotatic reflexes. The estimated annual incidence in the United States is 1.65 to 1.79 per 100,000 persons. Guillain-Barré syndrome is believed to result from an aberrant immune response that attacks nerve tissue. This response may be triggered by surgery, immunizations, or infections. The most common form of the disease, acute inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy, presents as progressive motor weakness, usually beginning in the legs and advancing proximally. Symptoms typically peak within four weeks, then plateau before resolving. More than one-half of patients experience severe pain, and about two-thirds have autonomic symptoms, such as cardiac arrhythmias, blood pressure instability, or urinary retention. Advancing symptoms may compromise respiration and vital functions. Diagnosis is based on clinical features, cerebrospinal fluid testing, and nerve conduction studies. Cerebrospinal fluid testing shows increased protein levels but a normal white blood cell count. Nerve conduction studies show a slowing, or possible blockage, of conduction. Patients should be hospitalized for multidisciplinary supportive care and disease-modifying therapy. Supportive therapy includes controlling pain with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, carbamazepine, or gabapentin; monitoring for respiratory and autonomic complications; and preventing venous thrombosis, skin breakdown, and deconditioning. Plasma exchange therapy has been shown to improve short-term and long-term outcomes, and intravenous immune globulin has been shown to hasten recovery in adults and children. Other therapies, including corticosteroids, have not demonstrated benefit. About 3 percent of patients with Guillain-Barré syndrome die. Neurologic problems persist in up to 20 percent of patients with the disease, and one-half of these patients are severely disabled.