The first report of corticotropin (ACTH) therapy given for palliation of severe pain following herpes zoster (shingles) was published in 1951.** Since a good response was obtained in that first case, 14 additional cases of similar severe neuralgia have been studied to evaluate the response to corticotropin, cortisone, and placebo injections. This paper is not concerned with the effect of these drugs in the acute phase of the disease. This problem has been reported on by others,* with the conclusion that the malaise and acute discomfort are relieved but that the course of the disease is unaffected.
Two facts became apparent at the start of this study. One was that neither corticotropin nor cortisone, while valuable, was proving 100% effective in the relief of pain, and secondly, that the placebo injections were "curing" the pain in a few of the patients.
The extent of neuralgia pain
SAUER GC. Herpes Zoster: Treatment of Postherpetic Neuralgia with Cortisone, Corticotropin, and Placebos. AMA Arch Derm. 1955;71(4):488–491. doi:10.1001/archderm.1955.01540280064016
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