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      Practical considerations in the pharmacological treatment of postherpetic neuralgia for the primary care provider

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          Abstract

          An estimated one million individuals in the US are diagnosed with herpes zoster (HZ; shingles) each year. Approximately 20% of these patients will develop postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), a complex HZ complication characterized by neuropathic pain isolated to the dermatome that was affected by the HZ virus. PHN is debilitating, altering physical function and quality of life, and commonly affects vulnerable populations, including the elderly and the immunocompromised. Despite the availability of an immunization for HZ prevention and several approved HZ treatments, the incidence of PHN is increasing. Furthermore, management of the neuropathic pain associated with PHN is often suboptimal, and the use of available therapeutics may be complicated by adverse effects and complex, burdensome treatment regimens, as well as by patients’ comorbidities and polypharmacy, which may lead to drug–drug interactions. Informed and comprehensive assessments of currently available pharmacological treatment options to achieve effective pain control in the primary care setting are needed. In this article, we discuss the situation in clinical practice, review currently recommended prevention and treatment options for PHN, and outline practical considerations for the management of this neuropathic pain syndrome, with a focus on optimal, individual-based treatment plans for use in the primary care setting.

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          Most cited references 58

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          Clinical guidelines for the use of chronic opioid therapy in chronic noncancer pain.

          Use of chronic opioid therapy for chronic noncancer pain has increased substantially. The American Pain Society and the American Academy of Pain Medicine commissioned a systematic review of the evidence on chronic opioid therapy for chronic noncancer pain and convened a multidisciplinary expert panel to review the evidence and formulate recommendations. Although evidence is limited, the expert panel concluded that chronic opioid therapy can be an effective therapy for carefully selected and monitored patients with chronic noncancer pain. However, opioids are also associated with potentially serious harms, including opioid-related adverse effects and outcomes related to the abuse potential of opioids. The recommendations presented in this document provide guidance on patient selection and risk stratification; informed consent and opioid management plans; initiation and titration of chronic opioid therapy; use of methadone; monitoring of patients on chronic opioid therapy; dose escalations, high-dose opioid therapy, opioid rotation, and indications for discontinuation of therapy; prevention and management of opioid-related adverse effects; driving and work safety; identifying a medical home and when to obtain consultation; management of breakthrough pain; chronic opioid therapy in pregnancy; and opioid-related policies. Safe and effective chronic opioid therapy for chronic noncancer pain requires clinical skills and knowledge in both the principles of opioid prescribing and on the assessment and management of risks associated with opioid abuse, addiction, and diversion. Although evidence is limited in many areas related to use of opioids for chronic noncancer pain, this guideline provides recommendations developed by a multidisciplinary expert panel after a systematic review of the evidence.
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            Risk factors for postherpetic neuralgia in patients with herpes zoster.

            To identify risk factors for postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) using a validated definition of this chronic neuropathic pain syndrome, to determine combinations of risk factors that identify patients with a high risk of developing PHN, and to examine the characteristics of patients with subacute herpetic neuralgia, that is, pain that persists beyond the acute phase of herpes zoster but that resolves before PHN can be diagnosed. The authors examined baseline and follow-up data from 965 herpes zoster patients enrolled within 72 hours of rash onset in two clinical trials of famciclovir. Univariate and multivariate analyses indicated that older age, female sex, presence of a prodrome, greater rash severity, and greater acute pain severity made independent contributions to identifying which patients developed PHN. Patients with subacute herpetic neuralgia who did not develop PHN were significantly younger and had less severe acute pain than PHN patients but were significantly more likely to have severe and widespread rash than patients without persisting pain. The independent contributions to the prediction of PHN made by older age, female sex, presence of a prodrome, greater rash severity, and greater acute pain severity suggest that these risk factors reflect different mechanisms that each contribute to the development of PHN. Subacute herpetic neuralgia that does not progress to PHN may reflect peripheral tissue damage and inflammation caused by a particularly severe or widespread rash.
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              Herpes zoster and postherpetic neuralgia surveillance using structured electronic data.

              To develop electronic algorithms for rapid, automated surveillance for herpes zoster and postherpetic neuralgia (PHN) using codified electronic health data. We attempted to identify every case of herpes zoster and PHN arising between January 1 and December 31, 2008, within the electronic medical record of a 560,000-patient ambulatory practice using an array of diagnosis codes; intervals between herpes zoster encounters; and prescriptions for analgesics, anticonvulsants, and antidepressants. We assessed the sensitivity and positive predictive value (PPV) of each screening criterion by medical record review and then integrated multiple criteria into combination algorithms to optimize sensitivity and PPV. We applied the optimized algorithms to the practice's historical data spanning January 1, 1996, to December 31, 2008, to assess for changes in the annual incidence of PHN. The International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, code 053 detected herpes zoster with 98% sensitivity and 93% PPV. A combination algorithm including diagnosis codes, visit intervals, and prescriptions detected PHN with 86% sensitivity and 78% PPV. Between 1996 and 2008, the age- and sex-adjusted annual incidence of PHN rose from 0.18 to 0.47 cases per 1000 patients, and the proportion of herpes zoster patients progressing to PHN rose from 5.4% to 17.6%. Novel algorithms incorporating multiple streams of electronic health data can reasonably detect herpes zoster and PHN. These algorithms could facilitate meaningful public health surveillance using electronic health data. The incidence of PHN may be increasing.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                J Pain Res
                J Pain Res
                Journal of Pain Research
                Dove Medical Press
                1178-7090
                2014
                10 March 2014
                : 7
                : 125-132
                Affiliations
                [1 ]JSM Medical, Edmond, OK, USA
                [2 ]Michiana Spine, Sports and Occupational Rehab, PC, Mishawaka, IN, USA
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Jamie S Massengill, JSM Medical, 7555 Winterwood Drive, Edmond, OK 73025, USA, Tel +1 405 990 5967, Fax +1 405 285 7546, Email jamie_massengill@ 123456yahoo.com
                Article
                jpr-7-125
                10.2147/JPR.S57242
                3956687
                24648752
                © 2014 Massengill and Kittredge. This work is published by Dove Medical Press Limited, and licensed under Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License

                The full terms of the License are available at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed.

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