Chronic pain in the chest wall is a major complication after herpes zoster infection of intercostal nerves. It is usually difficult to control pain of such origin. Two cases are reported of postherpetic neuralgia after herpes zoster infection involving the intercostal nerves. Both patients had shooting, burning, aching, and localized pain in the muscle supplied by the involved intercostal nerves 1 to 3 months after onset. Compression palpation of a tender spot in one of these muscles induced a referred pain that followed the corresponding interspace, usually in the distal anterior direction. Local twitch responses could be elicited during injection of 0.5% or 1% lidocaine into one of these tender spots; the pain in the interspace was consistently eliminated immediately after injection. One patient had complete pain relief after three series of injections. The effect of pain relief for the other patient lasted for 1 to 2 weeks after the initial injection and lasted progressively longer (up to 2 months) after repeated injections. It appears that many of the tender spots formed in intercostal muscles after herpes zoster are myofascial trigger points that respond to injection with referred pain, local twitch responses, and immediate pain relief.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation