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Thread: Shingles

  1. #1


    I have shingles despite having been vaccinated a year-and-a-half ago. I realize that this can happen. However, since the chicken pox virus lives in the spinal column, I'm wondering if people with SCI have a greater chance of having shingles even when vaccinated. Do they have a greater chance, even without the vaccine? It just makes me wonder since we're compromised in the area that hosts the virus. This isn't an urgent question, just mulling it over. Anyone have an opinion?

  2. #2
    I have seen nothing that indicates that shingles is more common in those with SCI, although there is some (small) evidence that SCI can cause some impairment in the immune system, which can make vaccines less effective, and resident viruses like the chicken pox virus (which causes shingles) to become active.

    The shingles vaccine is not a guarantee that you will not get it. It is only about 80% effective, but should make any attacks less severe. It is important to get onto an antiviral drug for shingles within 48 hours of symptoms. Have you done this?? This can make a significant difference in preventing the development of post-herpatic neuropathy (a type of severe peripheral nerve pain).


  3. #3
    I'm so sorry you have shingles, truly! The same thing happened to my husband, post-vaccination. He developed shingles across three dermatomes and was not correctly diagnosed within the 72-hour antiviral window - hope you got on acyclovir right away. Best wishes to you for a short course of shingles and no post-herpetic issues!
    MS with cervical and thoracic cord lesions

  4. #4
    I got on prednizone and anti viral meds as soon as I'd figured out what was going on. It felt like pulled muscles at first, then the rash. I started medications about 48 hours after noticing the rash, but am pretty sure it was on its way before that. Treating it sure won't hurt...but the shingles sure do. Yikes!

  5. #5
    Sounds like you started the meds in time, as there's no way to tell what is actually wrong until you see the rash. It's really insidious. It takes about five weeks for the blisters to dry up and start to fade, a slow and painful process. And hopefully you will have no further problems from that quarter again, ever.
    MS with cervical and thoracic cord lesions

  6. #6
    Been there, so know exactly how you are feeling. The only other thing I can add is that Motrin seemed to help way more with the pain than anything else, including narcotics. Not sure why other than the anti-inflammatory component of the NSAIDS.
    Hope you feel better soon!

  7. #7
    Thanks for the suggestions, CKF and KLD and the encouragement, Bonnette. It hasn't real bad, yet but I'm still on anti viral and steroids. I had no clue about shingles other than descriptions from an uncle who has the long, nasty version. I'm glad I took care of it right away.

  8. #8
    Super Moderator Sue Pendleton's Avatar
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    Jul 2001
    Wisconsin USA
    Depending on where you got hit the worst the drying blisters are often a hellish gift of their own. My Dad had just along the hairline on one side and finally tried a moisturizing shampoo for the duration and some non-girly lotion. Having a small container of a good moisturizing lotion ready for when they start to dry and itch couldn't hurt. I say small because once you can skip it I would throw the rest so maybe travel size. Cooties, ya know?
    Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow."

    Disclaimer: Answers, suggestions, and/or comments do not constitute medical advice expressed or implied and are based solely on my experiences as a SCI patient. Please consult your attending physician for medical advise and treatment. In the event of a medical emergency please call 911.

  9. #9
    Just go over mine. 500mg of acyclovir 5 times a day for 2 weeks. I painted my back with Calamine lotion for the blisters. Then aloe when they dried (plants grow outside my door). I had the same, thought I pulled a muscle felling before the blisters. No pain once they showed up. I had the infection below my injury level. Maybe someone will get a grant and study it. I've been a gimp for 32 years and never had them before.

  10. #10
    Shingles are more common as people age, so it is natural that as individuals with spinal cord injury age, they are more at risk to develop them. Also, there is evidence that with a chronic disability the immune system has problems, so that probably doesn't help any.

    It is helpful for everyone to get the vaccine - even though it is not 100% effective. There is evidence that those people who have the vaccine, have a less severe infection. And remember, many of us were exposed to chicken pox as children, so we are the prime target for this lovely virus.


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