Shingles aka Post Herpectic Neuralgia


Shingles (coxsackie virus) is a common painful disease affecting both men and women mainly in the 50-70 year age bracket. It is normally associated with a chicken pox infection when you were a child. The coxsackie virus resides in the dorsal root horn of your spinal cord in respect to the classical shingles and facial nerve if you are affected with facial shingles (aka Ramsay Hunt syndrome or herpes zoster/ophthalmicus).

It is thought the disease commences at a period of time when you are stressed. In respect to the classic shingles there is an inflammatory rash that is usually sited across the chest from the spinal cord to the sternum, however it can occur in other locations across the body such as the face. It is associated with vesicles or blisters that may take 1-2 weeks to bubble and 1-2 months to dissipate. There is significant pain whilst you have the disease which initially may require antiviral treatment and analgesics. It is thought antiviral drugs limit the extent of the disease. The pain is due to irritation of the neurons and pain fibres of the dermatome across the chest. It is sharp and shooting and may last for many months or years. It can be debilitating.


Stem cells have immunomodulatory effects on neurons and curing neuropathic pain. They do this by encouraging non-neuronal support cells to promote regeneration of the damaged nerve fibre. 

Professor Russell Vickers is a world authority on mechanisms of pain and the use of stem cells to treat neuropathic pain. We would suggest that all patients consult with their general medical practitioner and have appropriate antivirals and analgesics for the prescribed amount of time. This treatment may take 2-6 months. Indeed the earlier you start the antivirals is considered preferable.

If you are still having radicular chest pain after 6 months we would suggest to you that stem cells could be of benefit as your body's natural immunity has undertaken the maximal repair it can do. 

Similarly with facial shingles aka herpes ophthalmicus, herpes zoster or Ramsay Hunt syndrome then after 6 months you will not have any further immune mediated repair to your damaged nerves. 

Conventional harvesting of mesenchymal stem cells from your adipose tissue is undertaken by Professor Vickers or one his team members. We would suggest that if there is a focal area on the chest or head and neck then we would inject that site directly. Additionally we would recommend an intravenous infusion of stem cells combined with the local injection. During the treatment we recommend hyperbaric oxygen therapy to increase the pure numbers of stem cells and to potentiate their activity. The treatment may require 1-2 stem cell harvesting procedures.

Management of the disease process is undertaken by Professor Russell Vickers, PhD, MD sc, FFPM (ANZCA), Mr Peter Vickers, MD, FRCS, FRACDS or Mr Richard Vickers, MD, FRCS, FRACDS OMS, all consultant specialist surgeons.

Generally the treatment of shingles and associated diseases are successful although individual responses are variable. There is a possibility that stem cells may benefit patients who are refractory (not responding) to conventional treatment. This is because stem cells are anti-inflammatory and immuno-modulatory in action. The stem cell of its own accord will migrate to areas of tissue damage and attempt to exert their own reparative effects. can refer to many published articles in peer reviewed journals where researchers have shown benefits of stem cells in the treatment of shingles. However there is no firm consensus of the role of stem cells in the treatment of shingles apart from the known beneficial effects on neuropathic pain.

If patients were to enquire with the possibility of stem cell treatment for shingles we would require to know:

  • History of the disease
  • Medical diagnosis
  • Laboratory markers
  • Previous and present treatments
  • Patients general health

After reviewing all of the above we would be in a position to advise you if we feel that you are a suitable candidate. For sure we would advise you to continue with your existing treatment and then it would be your decision to proceed with stem cell treatment.


The diagnosis and treatment of shingles and shingles related diseases can be challenging. While the use of stem cells has not supplanted conventional therapy with antivirals and analgesics  we know that the mechanism of stem cells are anti-inflammatory in action and there are positive studies that are published.

At we pride ourselves on ensuring patients know the team diagnosing and conducting their stem cell therapy. Professor Russell Vickers is the lead specialist, working within a team of specialist surgeons and doctors.

Important questions that patients should ask of any treating clinicians and facility:

  • Are my treating doctors specialist surgeons/doctors and stem cell experts?
  • How many publications and research based studies have they published in peer reviewed journals?
  • Can they augment stem cell therapy with the known benefits of adjunctive therapy? is Europes premier stem cell organisation guided by evidence based medicine and clinical research.

Our founding director, Professor Russell Vickers PhD, MDsc, M Med, MA, FFPM (ANZCA) is an Australian and New Zealand board registered surgeon with over 100 publications, books and thousands of invited lectures and presentations on stem cells, pain, peptide synthesis and biochemistry. Professor Vickers is the leader of a family team of surgeons assisting him including Dr Peter Vickers, MD, FRCS (Edinburgh), FRACDS, Dr Richard Vickers, MD, FRCS (England, Glasgow, Ireland), FRACDS (OMS) and Dr Jessica Vickers, MD, MCOM, BA/BN as co-ordinator.

This medical summary has been written by Professor Vickers and his family team of specialist consultants.

It has been written by medically qualified writers.

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