Anesthesiology/Nerve block


  I had shoulder surgery, I was given a block to help the pain. Have you ever seen where the person gets shingles 3 weeks afterwards in the same nerve? Is it the trama of surgery or the immunity gets low because of surgery? Thank you for your help.

Hi there Deb and thanks for the question.

First let me say sorry that you have shingles!

The short answer is that no a nerve block is extremely unlikely to cause shingles. The long answer is to explain what exactly shingles are. Shingles is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, also known as VZV. It is the same virus that causes chickenpox. After an attack of chickenpox, the virus lies dormant in nerve tissue. Dormant means inactive.

Nerve cells are called neurons. They have a body and a long fiber called an axon. Orders from the brain to nerves and sensations going to the brain from nerves travel as electrical signals through axons. The brain and spinal cord together are called the central nervous system. The central nervous system receives and sends information through the peripheral nervous system, which is made up of nerves.

The bodies of some neurons form ganglia close to the brain and spinal cord. Ganglia is the plural of ganglion. The axons of neurons form the cable-like structure of the nerves that go to the face, chest, abdomen, arms and legs. The chicken pox virus, also known as the varicella-zoster, lies dormant in ganglia.

Only people who have had chicken pox can have shingles. After the blisters of chicken pox heal, the zoster virus lies inactive in the ganglia of the nerves. As a person gets older, it is possible for the zoster virus to become active again and cause shingles.

Although it is most common in people over the age of 50, anyone that has had chickenpox is at risk of developing shingles. About 20% of people who have had chicken pox will get shingles at some time during their lives. Most people who get shingles get them only once.

So as you can see the only cause for shingles is zoster virus and a nerve block cannot really cause them or even cause an outbreak.

I hope it gets better soon!


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Mike MacKinnon MSN FNP-C CRNA


I am a former Trauma Flight RN now a Family Nurse Practitioner and a Nurse Anesthetist (CRNAs). I can help answer questions on the CRNA profession and clinical anesthesia. I work full time as an independent practice CRNA and have a special interest in regional anesthesia, particularly peripheral nerve blocks. I also teach ultrasound regional anesthesia and lecture all over the country. If I do not know the answer, I will find it for you.


I am a Family Nurse Practitioner and a Nurse Anesthetist who works as an independent/autonomous practitioner. There are often questions about my profession and I would like to offer the service of an actual CRNA. If you did not know, there are about 40000 of us which equates to 50% of the anesthesia providers in the USA today. I also lecture and teach ultrasound regional anesthesia all over the country.

AANA (American Association of Nurse Anesthetists)
IARS (International Anesthesia Research Society) AANP (American Association of Nurse Practitioners)

Air Medical Transport Journal
OutPatient Surgery Magazine

Bachelors of Science in Nursing
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