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Airing Pain 46: Post-Herpetic Neuralgia and Migraine

Busting some myths about shingles and post-herpetic neuralgia, and the dos and don’ts of managing migraines

This programme was funded by the Scottish Government.

Migraine is not ‘just a headache’ – it’s a disabling condition that can cause major disruption to work and personal life. So says David Watson, a GP who specialises in treating patients with chronic headaches. He explains that the ‘migraine brain’ is extra sensitive to changes in the environment, how small changes to lifestyle can help people to minimise episodes and how to avoid the pitfall of medication overuse. Dr Watson also gives helpful advice on how patients with migraine can best prepare for a visit to their GP.

Post-herpetic neuralgia is another frequently misunderstood condition with myths about its contagiousness and relationship to chickenpox and shingles causing confusion. Marian Nicholson of the Shingles Support Society clears up these misunderstandings and emphasises the importance of preventative treatments. We also hear about a new vaccine which should help to protect older people who are most at risk of developing post-herpetic neuralgia after shingles.

Issues covered in this programme include: Post-herpetic neuralgia, migraine, headaches, hypersensitivity, lifestyle, misconceptions, preventative treatment, vaccine, shingles, elderly people, triggers, burning sensation, chickenpox virus, drugs, medication, painkillers, antiviral medicine, nerve pain, tricyclic antidepressant and antiepileptics.


  • David Watson, General Practitioner, Aberdeen and Chair of the SIGN Guideline on Headache
  • Marian Nicholson, Director of the Shingles Support Society.
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