The Real Pain of Shingles

JoanDichter Web ThumbThe post below is from the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) “Real Stories, Real People” series. Thank you to Joan for sharing her experience with shingles to increase awareness among others. To share your own real story, visit

I had shingles recently and I just need to say—the pain from shingles was the worst I’ve ever felt. The pain was in my back and at first, I figured it was sciatica. But the pain kept getting worse until one day I had to go to the emergency room. The doctor there told me to get an MRI to see if there was a back problem. I said to him that if I didn’t know better I would think that it was shingles because nothing alleviated the pain. He said that it might very well be and that in some cases the rash comes out after the pain – and sometimes never. We were right – the rash appeared about five days later and my physician confirmed that I had shingles. I’m an active and healthy woman. I work full-time as a special education teacher, I travel a lot and spend time at the theater. I didn’t want to let shingles slow me down. But the truth is, the pain was just awful. At night, in particular, it was so bad that I couldn’t sleep. If I had known that a vaccine was available and recommended for everyone my age, I would have gotten it. Believe me, if you could understand the pain of shingles, you’d get the vaccine, too.

New York, NY

To learn more about increasing US adult vaccination rates, view the updated NFID complimentary online program, “Building an Adult Immunization Practice: The Primary Care Physician’s Role in Disease Prevention.”

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  1. […] The Real Pain of Shingles ( […]

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