Pain is the first symptom of shingles, developing in the days leading up to the appearance of the rash. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), pain is sometimes the only symptom, and a rash does not develop; this is a condition known as zoster sine herpete.
Shingles pain (and rash) occurs in a band-like pattern on only one side of the body. This is generally somewhere on the trunk of the body, but may also involve the face and head, according to the Mayo Clinic.
For some people, the pain of shingles is only mild, whereas for others it can be extreme. The Mayo Clinic reports that this pain is sometimes mistaken for problems affecting organs like the lungs, heart and kidneys.
It is important for people who believe they may have shingles to visit their doctor. A doctor can prescribe antiviral medications and corticosteroids, along with other pain-management strategies to treat the condition.
For some people, the pain of shingles lasts after the rash has gone away. This is known as postherpetic neuralgia, and the pain, although treatable, can be long-lasting and severe.