What Is Neurologic Lyme Disease
Neurologic symptoms of Lyme disease occur when the Lyme disease bacteria affect the peripheral or central nervous systems.
- Cranial nerve involvement: When the cranial nerves are affected, facial palsy can occur on one or both sides of the face.
- Peripheral nerve involvement: When the peripheral nerves are affected, patients can develop radiculoneuropathy which can cause numbness, tingling, shooting pain, or weakness in the arms or legs.
- Central nervous system involvement: When the central nervous system is affected, Lyme meningitis can cause fever, headache, sensitivity to light, and stiff neck.
Out of every 100 patients whose cases are reported to CDC, 9 have facial palsy, 4 have radiculopathy, and 3 have meningitis or encephalitis. Because of reporting practices, this statistic may overestimate how often these manifestations are seen by clinicians.
Achy Stiff Or Swollen Joints
Joint pain and stiffness, often intermittent, are early Lyme symptoms. Your joints may be inflamed, warm to the touch, painful, and swollen. You may have stiffness and limited range of motion in some joints .
Pain may move around. Sometimes your knees may hurt, whereas other times its your neck or your heels. You may also have bursitis . Bursae are the thin cushions between bone and surrounding tissue.
The pain may be severe, and it may be transitory. More than one joint may be affected. Most often the large joints are involved .
People often attribute joint problems to age, genetics, or sports. Lyme should be added to that list, as these statistics indicate:
- One study estimates that 80 percent of people with untreated Lyme have muscle and joint symptoms .
- Fifty percent of people with untreated Lyme have intermittent episodes of arthritis .
- Two-thirds of people have their first episode of joint pain within six months of the infection .
- Use of anti-inflammatory drugs may mask the actual number of people with joint swelling .
Joint pain that comes and goes, or moves from joint to joint, could be a sign of Lyme.
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Where Does Lyme Disease Come From
Lyme disease comes from infected ticks, usually latched on to deer and other wildlife. Usually, Lyme disease is founded in wooded areas like the Pacific Coast, Northeast, or the Midwest, but it can be found in almostevery state in the nation due to changing deer populations, bird migrations, and environmental factors like deforestation.
The only way to contract Lyme disease is from an infected tick bite, in most cases, it’s the deer tick , which is found in wooded areas and fields where deer live. Ticks can also be found near bird feeders in urban areas. Once contracted, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease can invade organs like the kidneys.
Dogs get it when bitten by infected ticks as well which can lead to joint swelling and other complications. Lyme disease is diagnosed based on physical examination findings and supporting blood work but there are several signs that your dog could be suffering from Lyme disease.
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The 7 Telltale Symptoms Of Lyme Disease
1. The first symptom of Lyme disease in dogs is often loss of appetite, which may be accompanied by lethargy or shaking. Dogs with Lyme disease may stop eating because they feel ill and have generally reduced energy levels. These symptoms may come and go, but if they persist for over a week, or if it happens suddenly and without warning, make sure to take your dog to the vet as soon as possible. It’s a sign that an infection has become serious.
2. Fever isone of the most common symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs, it’s also one of the first things a vet will check for. A fever over 103 degrees Fahrenheit is cause for concern, but keep in mind that not all dogs with a fever have Lyme disease. Other illnesses can cause fevers too, so get tested for both before coming to any conclusions about what may be wrong with your dog.
3. The most common symptom of Lyme disease in both humans and dogs is lameness or joint pain, accompanied by swelling or soreness on the affected limb. This is because the bacteria enters the body through the bloodstream and makes its way to the joints, where it causes inflammation and pain. Symptoms usually only appear in one or two limbs at first, often switching between front and back legs.
4. General discomfort or malaise is a common Lyme disease symptom. If you notice your dogs acting more lethargic, and look uncomfortable when they would normally be happy, call your veterinarian.
Touched By Lyme: When Pain Is Simply Unbearable
As a kid growing up in southern California in the 80s and 90s, Bryan Bower was a bit of a daredevil: BMX biking, rollerblading, skateboarding, snowboardingnever a show-off, but always pursuing his jumps and thrills. As a college student, he discovered a new passion, rock climbing. He went everywhere with his new best friend and climbing buddy Rhyan. Joshua Tree, Tahquitz, The Needles and Malibu Canyon were southern California favorites. In his early 20s, Bryan started training to climb Yosemites El Capitan, practicing with one of those folding ledges that you haul up and sleep on when youre half way up the 3,000-foot granite face. All that came to a screeching halt about six years ago
when Bryan was struck by a series of bizarre symptoms: debilitating headaches, brain fog, intense pain in his spine and shoulders, night sweats, difficulties with his balance, sleep disturbance and depression. That prompted a series of doctor appointments which, after many twists and turns, eventually led to a diagnosis of Lyme disease. By this time, the infection was deeply entrenched in his brain and central nervous system.
His was a dramatically changed personal landscape. There were different kinds of rocks to climb now, boulders named severe neuro-Lyme, co-infections, and brutal suffering.
Occasionally, there would be some improvement in his physical situation. When it didnt last, hed pour his agony and frustration into the written word, on his blog or in anguished poetry.
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Lyme Disease And Joint Pain: Its Complicated
For starters, Lyme is complicated and every patient responds to the disease differently.
Approximately 30,000 new cases of Lyme are diagnosed each year, according to the CDC, and just over one-third of them develop arthritis as a symptom. The most common symptoms beyond the bullseye rash are chills, fatigue, headache/neck stiffness, fever. Painful and swollen jointsespecially in large joints such as the kneeare often considered a late-stage symptom of Lyme, but can appear even days after the tick bite.1-3 Some individuals may find out they have Lyme as a result of chronic joint painwithout ever knowing they had a tick bite.
Ticks rarely carry just one strain of bacteria. They usually deliver several different species of bacteria and parasites in one bite these are called co-infections. Co-infections are one reason Lyme disease diagnosis and treatment can be so complex and difficult.
To investigate why joint pain is a common symptom of Lyme disease, I spoke to Thalia Farshchian, ND, a naturopathic doctor practicing at Medical Options for Wellness, a clinic in Foster City, California. She specializes in treating patients affected by chronic and complex diseases, including Lyme disease.
It is estimated that about 70% of individuals presenting with bullseye rash do not recall a tick bite, she said. It is important to note that the absence of a rash does not rule out Lyme Disease as diagnosis, but may be supportive of the diagnosis.
Cytokine Inflammation In Lyme Disease Pain
It is well known that Lyme disease triggers white blood cells to make excess inflammation chemicals called cytokines. These cytokines cause pain. For a detailed description of this and a review of treatments see Control Cytokines: A Guide to Fix Lyme Symptoms & The Immune System.
Lyme disease Pain Strategy
So one strategy to lower pain in Lyme disease is to take herbs and supplements that may support lowering cytokines. These include curcumin and liposomal glutathione. Low dose naltrexone , a prescription medicine, can also lower cytokines.
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The worst part about Rachels case is that Lyme isnt recognized as a disease in Australia, making it almost impossible for her to get treatment. And widespread misconceptions about exactly how severe it is make living with Lyme worse. Theres a lot of social media and news coverage about Lyme consequences, says Sonpal. It may present as that classic bulls-eye rash that gets treated, but the problem is that the damage from the disease can manifest much more seriously years later. As a result, Rachel is currently fundraising to travel to Germany to get treatment.
Lyme Sci: 12 Ways You Can Help Yourself Manage Chronic Pain
Chronic paindefined as ongoing pain that continues for longer than six monthsis a common complaint of patients with persistent Lyme disease.
The CDC estimates that 20% of Americans currently live with chronic pain. Estimates range from 10% to 36% of Lyme patients who are diagnosed and treated early are left with chronic symptoms.
For the past 40 years, the medical definition of chronic pain was more narrowly defined, including only those patients with actual or potential tissue damage.
Recently, with the help of researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine, the International Association for the Study of Pain has made a subtle but important change to the medical definition of pain.
The new definition, An unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with, or resembling that associated with, actual or potential tissue damages, is important as it includes the pain caused by an overstimulated nervous system, commonly associated with chronic pain.
This new more inclusive definition, if adopted by insurance providers, could have a positive impact on access to health care for disempowered and neglected populations.
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Symptoms Of Tickborne Illness
Many tickborne diseases can have similar signs and symptoms. If you get a tick bite and develop the symptoms below within a few weeks, see your healthcare provider.
The most common symptoms of tick-related illnesses include:
- Fever/chills. All tickborne diseases can cause fever.
- Aches and pains. Tickborne diseases can cause headache, fatigue, and muscle aches. People with Lyme disease may also have joint pain.
Your healthcare provider should evaluate the following before deciding on a plan for treatment:
- the geographic region where you were bitten, and
- lab tests, depending on the symptoms and the geographic region where you were bitten.
Tick paralysis is thought to be caused by a toxin in the saliva of an attached tick. People with tick paralysis can experience weakness or paralysis that gradually moves up the body. These symptoms can sometimes resemble other neurologic conditions . Patients typically regain movement within 24 hours of removing the tick. Learn more at Tick paralysis: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopediaexternal icon.
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How To Prevent And Treat Lyme Disease In Dogs
Once a diagnosis is confirmed, your dog will be put on an aggressive course of antibiotics to kill the bacteria and prevent further complications. In the most severe cases, untreated Lyme disease can cause kidney damage.
Treatment for canine Lyme disease usually lasts from two weeks to two months depending on how far along the infection progressed before treatment began. Sometimes reinfection can occur, if this happens see your vet immediately to restart treatment. You may also be given medication for pain relief if your dog is experiencing joint or muscle soreness or stiffness. Be sure to keep your dog active during the recovery period, and keep an eye on its health and mood.
To prevent Lyme disease, be sure to check and comb your dog’s fur after walking through thick brush or tall grasses. If you spot a tick, you can remove it yourself, but it can be a difficult endeavor. If you find a tick on your dog, we recommend you consult your veterinarian. Lyme disease is not transferrable from dogs to humans, but you don’t want to bring an infected tick into your household because it can pose a risk to everyone else in the home.
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Muscle Spasm Pain In Lyme Disease
Due to inflammation or nerve injury, many with Lyme have pain due to muscle spasm. In addition to strategies to lower cytokines and to control nerve pain signals, muscle relaxers can help with this situation.
Lyme Disease Pain Strategy
Magnesium is a useful supplement that supports muscle relaxation. The salt forms of magnesium that are most helpful for this are Magnesium Malate and Magnesium Citrate. Prescription muscle relaxers are also helpful.
Chronic Lyme Disease Vs Ptlds
The terms chronic Lyme disease and Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome are sometimes used interchangeably. However, PTLDS is slightly more restrictive, referring to patients who have received treatment for Lyme disease but go on to experience Lyme disease symptoms. It does not include those who received a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis and have developed chronic symptoms of Lyme disease before receiving any kind of treatment.
The CDC defines PTLDS as generalized and/or recurring pain, fatigue, and cognitive difficulties that last for more than 6 months after treatment. These mirror symptoms associated with chronic Lyme disease, with or without treatment.
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Chronic Lyme Arthritis: A Mystery Solved
- By John Ross, MD, FIDSA, Contributing Editor
In 1975, researchers from Yale investigated an epidemic of 51 patients with arthritis who lived near the woodsy town of Lyme, Connecticut. The most common symptom was recurrent attacks of knee swelling. A few had pain in other joints, such as the wrist or ankle. Many had fever, fatigue, and headache. Some remembered a round skin rash before the onset of knee swelling.
We now know that Lyme disease is an infection acquired from tick bites, caused by a spiral bacterium named Borrelia burgdorferi. After a tick bite, Borrelia bacteria wriggle through the skin away from the bite site. This leads to a circular red rash, known as erythema migrans. In its more advanced stages, erythema migrans may take on a bullseye appearance. Many people are unaware of the rash, as it is usually painless, and ticks may bite in less visible locations, such as a buttock or shoulder blade.
Lyme disease is diagnosed with blood tests that detect antibodies to B. burgdorferi. Two-step testing is traditionally performed. A rapid enzyme immunoassay is performed first. If this is positive, a more time-consuming Western blot test is sent for confirmation. The FDA recently approved two rapid tests for Lyme disease that are performed simultaneously, reducing the turnaround time.
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How Is It Treated
Facial palsy is treated with oral antibiotics and Lyme meningitis/radiculoneuritis can either be treated with oral or intravenous antibiotics, depending on severity . Most people with Lyme disease respond well to antibiotics and fully recover. Varying degrees of permanent nervous system damage may develop in people who do not receive treatment in the early stages of illness and who develop late-stage Lyme disease.
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Contact Premier Health And Holistic Medicine For Help
Aching muscles can affect your life and reduce the joy of living, but there is help and hope for your suffering. If you need medical help with the symptoms of Lyme disease that include aching muscles, please contact Premier Health and get a consultation with Dr. Ridinger today. She works with Lyme patients, offering treatment that works best for them. This may include diet changes, supplements, sleep pattern changes, exercise, antioxidant therapies, hormones, and more.
With more than 25 years of experience as a holistic doctor and specializing in difficult illnesses that includes Lyme disease, you can count on her expertise and compassion in finding the right treatment for you or a loved one.
Find relief for your aching muscles here.
Key Points For Healthcare Providers
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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,4 where the Lyme bacteria are being killed off, and temporarily worsen the underlying symptoms.
The Numbers On Chronic Lyme
Because Lyme disease is commonly missed or misdiagnosed, statistics vary on how many Lyme patients go on to experience chronic symptoms. The following research nonetheless paints a basic picture of the problem.
- An estimated 5-20% of patients may have chronic symptoms after getting Lyme disease, according to the Columbia University Irving Medical Center.
- The treatment failure rate for chronic Lyme disease patients was estimated at 26-50% in 2004, compared to 16-39% for early Lyme patients, according to Lymedisease.org.
- Up to 15-40% of late-stage Lyme patients develop neurological disorders, which are responsible for many common symptoms of chronic Lyme disease.
Experts dont know for sure why some people experience persistent symptoms, even with treatment. However, some believe the Lyme infection may trigger an auto-immune response that manifests in the chronic symptoms detailed below.
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