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In this blog, you will learn:
- What the signs and symptoms of Lyme Disease are
- How Lyme Disease is diagnosed
- Why it is important to get a correct diagnosis so that treatment can be targeted and effective
Do your clients suffer from fatigue, headaches or muscle or joint pain? Do they have Lyme Disease and do you know how to treat it? Then this blog on Lyme Disease is for you. Please read on for the details!
Do you get stuck clinically with symptoms of Lyme with your patients? Would you like to have a larger impact on improving pain or fatigue issues? The key to the treatment of many diseases may just be an individual approach using nutrition, lifestyle and exercise. If you want to improve your patients quality of life, you need a customized approach to address each patients root causes. Our functional medicine course will teach you how to do this. Look into our functional medicine school : we will educate you to have a greater impact on improving your clients lives.
** Please note: If you want the short summary version of this article, then please click here **
What is Lyme Disease ?
Lyme Disease is a bacterial infection, caused by Borrelia burgdorferi. Borrelia is a bacterium that is transmitted by an infected black-legged tick. It is most commonly spread by a tick bite. The disease is named after Lyme, Connecticut, where it was first identified in 1975 in the US.
Managing Lyme Arthritis Pain: Can Herbs Help
Stephen Harrod Buhner is a well-known herbalist and author who specializes in the treatment of Lyme disease and co-infections. His book, Healing Lyme, Natural Healing of Lyme Borreliosis and the Coinfections Chlamydia and Spotted Fever Rickettsioses, is based on extensive research on Lyme disease and was the first book I bought after my Lyme diagnosis.4 It offers an exhaustive description of what occurs during Lyme infection, as well as a detailed herbal protocol that Ive been following for the past 3 years.
Buhner writes that Lyme joint pain is caused by the way Borrelia burgdorferi interacts with joint spaces in the body. According to Buhners book, The most important thing to understand about Lyme disease is that the bacteria have an affinity for collagenous tissue. This is at the root of every symptom they cause… Wherever feed on those tissues is where the symptoms occur.
Joints are largely composed of collagen both cartilage and synovial fluid are collagenous structures. Lyme bacteria break down and eat collagen wherever they lodge. As you can imagine, this leads to inflammation and pain.
Lyme can plant itself into any collagenous tissue in the body meaning it can infect any joint space. It can also choose the myelin sheaths around nerve tissue in the brain or spinal cord, also made of collagen. This results in neurological symptoms, and is another reason Lyme patients symptoms and pain are so different.
Who Gets Lyme Disease
Anyone bitten by an infected deer tick can get Lyme disease. Most U.S. cases of Lyme disease happen in Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin. But Lyme disease is found in other parts of the U.S., Europe, Asia, and Australia too.
Also Check: What To Do If You Have Lyme Disease
What Is Lyme Arthritis
Lyme arthritis occurs when Lyme disease bacteria enter joint tissue and cause inflammation. If left untreated, permanent damage to the joint can occur. Lyme arthritis accounts for approximately one out of every four Lyme disease cases reported to CDC. Because of reporting practices, this statistic may overstate the frequency of arthritis among patients seen in routine clinical practice.
The Aches And Pains Of Tick
byJennifer Crystalon July 23, 2019
The first time I saw the award-winning Lyme documentary Under Our Skin, I was seated in the theater. In the film, a doctor who doesnt believe in chronic Lyme was asked what might otherwise be causing the symptoms of the more than 427,000 people afflicted by tick-borne illness every year. He suggested it could just be the normal aches and pains of getting older.
With that bit of ignorance so baldly stated, everyone in the theater let out a collective groan.
There is a big difference between the aches and pains that come with tick-borne illnesses and those associated with every day life.
To be fair, those who havent wrestled with tick-borne illnesses might be confused by the generic descriptor aches and pains. Thats because its like so many other nebulous descriptions,like fatiguethat could be the result of any number of illnesses. Let me explain.
In my former athletic life, I was a hard-core skier. In college I skied almost every winter day, and after I graduated and moved to Colorado, I skied every Saturday and Sunday from November to April. Often my muscles were sore after these workouts. Sometimes Id even wake up with an aching back, but only because Id worked my arms too hard the day before. These aches and pains were akin to those anyone might feel after working out at the gym, going for a run, or weeding the garden. The muscles get overworked, and you feel residual soreness.
Recommended Reading: Where Can You Get A Lyme Disease Test
Chronic Lyme: What Happens When Lyme Goes Untreated
The Lyme community typically uses the term chronic Lyme disease to describe a range of physical, cognitive, and emotional symptoms that crop up after getting Lyme disease and persist for months to years after infection.
The risk of chronic Lyme increases the longer a Lyme infection goes untreated or undertreated. In other words, patients are more likely to recover fully if their Lyme infection is detected and treated as early as possible after the discovery of a tick bite. This stage is usually marked by symptoms such as fevers, chills, muscle aches, and sometimes rashes.
When left untreated or undertreated, however, Lyme disease can spread throughout the body and affect:
- The central nervous system
- Muscles and joints
As Lymedisease.org points out, these symptoms can evolve, disappear, and reappear at different times.
Lyme Disease As An Underlying Cause Of Supraspinatus Tendinopathy In An Overhead Athlete
Both authors provided concept/idea/project design, writing, data analysis, project management, institutional liaisons, clerical support, and consultation . Mr Coulon provided data collection, fund procurement, patient, and facilities/equipment. The authors acknowledge the Department of Rehabilitation Services, Baton Rouge General Medical Center, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, for providing the facilities for this case report.
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Neurologic Pain In Lyme Disease
Lyme disease can also cause neurologic pain. Nerve pain has qualities of sharp, stabbing, shooting, piercing, or electrical type pain. These qualities of pain occur when Lyme germs directly injure nerves. Or it occurs as a result of inflammation of those nerves from cytokines.
There is a second type of nerve pain known to occur in people with fibromyalgia and MS, that likely occurs in people with Lyme disease. This is due to infection in the brain activating a brain immune cell called microglia. When infections activate Toll-like receptors on microglia, this leads to neurologic pain felt throughout the body. Some think this is the cause of the muscle pain seen in people with fibromyalgia. It is also likely a major cause of the myalgia seen in Lyme disease.
Lyme Disease Pain Strategy
For nerve pain due to microglia activation in the brain, one strategy is to block the Toll-like receptors to stop the microglia from turning on. LDN helps with this.
Another strategy is to decrease the inflammation of nerves. LDN, anti-cytokine herbs, and medical marijuana/cbd oil may help with this.
The last nerve strategy is to decrease the nerve signals that transmit nerve pain. Sleep helps with this, medical marijuana/cbd, prescriptions anti-seizure prescriptions and anti-depression prescriptions can help this too.
Your Symptoms Improve When You’re Taking Medication For Other Ailments
Patients taking antibiotics for an unrelated problem , will often report that their symptoms are much better while taking the antibiotic, and worsen when the antibiotic is stopped. Conversely, some individuals feel much worse on antibiotics, where all of their symptoms are intensified. This is called a Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction, where the Lyme bacteria are being killed off, and temporarily worsen the underlying symptoms.
Read Also: Can Lyme Disease Flare Up Years Later
How Does Lyme Disease Affect The Joints
Lyme disease is an infection caused by Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria transmitted from the bite of an infected blacklegged tick . A bulls-eye shaped rash is an easily recognizable sign of this tick borne disease however, if the rash doesnt appear or goes unnoticed, Lyme disease is often confused with other conditions due to the common nature of its flu-like symptoms.
Lyme disease can typically be treated with a course of antibiotics however, if left untreated, the infection can develop into a chronic disorder affecting the heart, joints, and nervous system. Once the disease reaches this stage, the infection may be managed, but the damage it has caused can be irreversible. .
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Diagnosis Of Lyme Arthritis
Like all proper diagnostic workups, it is essential to start with the history of the patient. In the case of tick-borne infections, it is important to know if there is a possibility the person may have been exposed to a tick prior to the onset of their symptoms. As mentioned previously, it can take up to two years for the pain caused by Lyme disease to manifest, so it is essential to review the patientâs history. Does the person spend time outdoors? Some activities increase exposure risks such as hiking, horseback riding, and camping, but people can also be exposed to ticks in parks, sports fields, in their yards, and from their pets bringing ticks into the house.
When children experience pain, they are often taken to their pediatrician who may not consider the diagnosis of Lyme disease. The same can occur for an adult with pain who presents to an orthopedist or sports medicine doctor.
On exam, the lining of the affected joint may be inflamed â called synovitis. Synovitis not only occurs in rheumatoid arthritis but also Lyme arthritis. Lyme arthritis rarely causes symmetrical joint involvement like rheumatoid arthritis, which can be helpful in making the correct diagnosis.
Some Chronic Lyme Disease Symptoms
As mentioned, chronic Lyme disease consists of a broad cluster of physical, cognitive, and psychiatric symptoms. Some of these symptoms are much more common, while others almost never occur, but can be deadly. But even the less severe symptoms, such as chronic fatigue and pain, can lead to drastic changes in quality of life for chronic Lyme patients.
Chronic Lyme survivors have reported experiencing the following symptoms for months to years after infection:
- Intermittent fevers, chills, and sweats
- Chronic inflammation
- Numbness and tingling in the limbs
- Dizziness and shortness of breath
- Heart palpitations and irregular heartbeat
- Anxiety and paranoia
- Multiple-chemical sensitivities
Chronic Lyme disease can be linked to deadly symptoms, such as Lyme carditis .
According to Lymedisease.org, studies consistently show that chronic Lyme disease patients have poorer quality of life than those with other chronic diseases. One of their own studies showed that 75% of surveyed patients reported at least one symptom as severe or very severe.
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Lyme Disease: Why Does Joint Pain Persist
Researchers have found clues that might lead to a treatment for Lyme arthritis. The secret may lie in the walls of the bacterium that causes the condition.
Lyme disease occurs when a person becomes infected with a tick-borne bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi.
Although doctors can often treat Lyme disease with antibiotics, if they do not catch it early, the bacteria can cause long-term issues with the individuals joints.
Lyme arthritis can persist for months or even years in some cases.
Researchers are still unsure why joint symptoms can continue long after antibiotics have destroyed the bacteria.
30,000 cases of Lyme disease among the United States population.
However, the true number of cases is likely to be much higher. In fact, the CDC estimate that there might be up to 300,000 cases each year.
According to the CDC, reports of Lyme disease have tripled since the late 1990s, and overall, tick-borne diseases are becoming more prevalent. This increase is due, at least in part, to rising global temperatures.
Due to the steady growth in the number of cases, scientists are keen to uncover more effective ways of treating the long-term symptoms.
How Is Lyme Disease Diagnosed
As the symptoms and signs of Lyme disease are similar to those found in other conditions and are nonspecific, diagnosis is not easy. In addition to this, the ticks that spread the disease can also transmit other diseases at the same time.
Diagnosis is easier when your doctor can see that you have the characteristic bulls eye rash. However, if you dont, your doctor will ask you about your medical history, whether youve been outdoors in summertime, where you have been outdoors and will give you a medical examination.
Lab tests enable bacteria antibodies to be detected in order to confirm a diagnosis. They are most reliable when youve had the infection for a few weeks, as your body will then have had the time to develop the antibodies.
Tests for Lyme disease include:
- Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay test. This is the test most commonly used to diagnose Lyme disease, and it detects antibodies to Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria. Sometimes the test brings up a false-positive so its not typically used as the sole test for diagnosis.
Although the test may not show as a positive result during the first stage of Lyme disease, often the accompanying rash is distinctive enough to make the diagnosis, especially if youve been in an area where Lyme disease-transmitting ticks are common.
- Western blot test. If the initial ELISA test comes back positive, the Western blot test will confirm your diagnosis.
Recommended Reading: Do You Get A Rash With Lyme Disease
Sleep In Lyme Disease Pain Management
The center of a pain control strategy in Lyme disease is sleep. Sleep helps in two ways.
Lyme Disease Pain Strategy
Get 7-9 hours of sleep a night. To do this use good sleep hygiene, sleep herbs and supplements, and/or sleep prescriptions. See Sleep in Lyme Disease: The Basic Steps, Sleep: The Natural Medicines, and Sleep: The Prescription Medicines.
Can Lyme Disease Be Prevented
Not all cases of Lyme disease can be prevented. But you can help protect your family from tick bites. If you go into an area where ticks live, be sure to:
- Stay in the middle of the trail, instead of going through high grass or the woods.
- Wear closed shoes or boots, long-sleeved shirts, and long pants. Tuck pant legs into shoes or boots to prevent ticks from crawling up legs.
- Use an insect repellent.
- Consider treating clothing and gear with permethrin to repel ticks. When used properly, permethrin is safe for all ages. But don’t use it on clothing or other material a child may suck on or chew.
- Wear light-colored clothing to help you see ticks more easily.
- Shower and wash hair after being outside to remove ticks before they attach.
Also Check: What Are Tests For Lyme Disease
How Is Morphea Diagnosed
If you have unexplained hard or discolored patches of skin, your doctor may refer you to a dermatologist or a rheumatologist .
Your doctor is likely to ask you questions about your symptoms, such as when you first started noticing changes in your skin, if youve done anything to treat yourself, and if you have any other symptoms. Theyll ask for a family health history and about any recent illnesses youve had and any medications youre taking.
There is no test for diagnosing morphea. Your doctor will examine your skin and, though not usually necessary, might take a small sample to have analyzed by a lab. This is called a skin biopsy.
They may also order some tests to help distinguish morphea from something called systemic scleroderma. This type of scleroderma is similar to morphea at first. But it can later affect internal organs and requires more aggressive treatment.
Morphea with deep lesions, lesions on your face or neck, or widespread lesions can lead to:
- restricted joint mobility
- permanent eye damage in children
- hair loss
Often people with morphea also have genital lichen sclerosis, which can cause itching and burning and changes to your skin. Its important to tell your doctor about these symptoms if you have morphea.
You’ve Gotten A Positive Blood Test
The fourth and final point to determine if your symptoms are due to Lyme disease is to ask your healthcare provider to run a blood test. Although there are several different laboratory tests to diagnose Lyme disease, these tests each have their pros and cons, and can miss establishing the diagnosis because they are not sensitive enough to always pick up the presence of the bacteria.
A bullseye rash is a classic manifestation of Lyme disease, and does not require a positive blood test, but less than 50% of people may get the rash, and it may be located in a part of the body where the rash cannot easily be seen.
If you suffer from chronic unexplained symptoms, including fatigue and musculoskeletal pain, follow this four-step approach and ask your doctor for a professional opinion.
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