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Lyme Disease Joint Pain Symptoms


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What are the symptoms of Lyme disease?

Anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and Tylenol are available over-the-counter to alleviate joint pain. The same medications can be prescribed by a doctor. If you are experiencing more severe joint pain, you should see a doctor as soon as possible. If your pain is caused by an injury, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. You should be aware of the symptoms and make sure that they are not caused by a serious condition.

Lyme And Chronic Joint Pain Inflammation can lead to joint pain. Inflammation can lead to joint damage. Your doctor can prescribe medication to stop the inflammation. While over-the-counter medications can help relieve the pain, they have side effects and should be taken only as directed by your doctor. Your doctor will discuss your treatment options and advise you on any side effects that may occur. If your joint pain is chronic or doesnt respond to these medicines, you may need to see a surgeon.

Besides over-the-counter medications, doctors can recommend joint-related surgeries to treat joint pain. This is a serious problem and may require long-term treatment. Surgical treatment can be life-saving for patients suffering from chronic joint pain. Your doctor can also recommend physical therapy and help you manage your condition at home. If youve tried all of these methods and still have joint pain, you may need to consider surgery. In severe cases, the surgery can relieve the pain and prevent future problems.

Lyme Arthritis: How To Ease And Prevent Joint Pain And Swelling

Painful joints and swollen knees have remained a common manifestation of Lyme disease since it was first diagnosed as a separate condition in the mid-1970s. In fact, a study in Arthritis and Rheumatism recounted the first cases of what would come to be known as Lyme arthritis in 1977.

In this historical study, the authors examined 51 residents from three neighboring communities near the town of Lyme, Connecticut. The individuals affected by the mystery illness included 39 children and 12 adults. The residents experienced pain and swelling in larger joints of the body, with the most typical presentation occurring in the knee.

The incidences of pain and swelling tended to develop in an asymmetric fashion, meaning the symptoms occurred on one side of the body. About 25% of the patients involved in the study also described the appearance of a unique skin lesion resembling a bulls-eye approximately four weeks before the onslaught of arthritic symptoms.

Remarkably, all of the cases surfaced in people who lived in rural, wooded areas with the peak rate of incidence happening in June through September. In contrast, other arthritic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, had never occurred among groups of community members or during specific months of the year before, making the novel mystery illness distinct from those with similar symptomatology.

How And Why Does Arthritis Present In Lyme Disease

The reason people get symptoms of arthritis when they contract Lyme disease has to do with how the bacteria B. burgdorferi functions in your body. Bacterium protects itself with walls made of proteins and sugars. These are called peptidoglycan. The peptidoglycan helps bacteria divide and grow and spread.

However, with B. burgdorferi, it cannot do this. The proteins and sugars are primarily useless to the bacteria associated with Lyme disease. So, because it cant be used, B. burgdorferi dumps the peptidoglycan wherever it can in your body.

Most of the time, this dumping goes into your joints. Both sugars and proteins like these can cause inflammation. And this can happen even when the bacteria have been killed off. In this study, it was found that patients whose symptoms did not improve even after taking antibiotics, still had peptidoglycan in the fluids in their joints.

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Lyme Disease And Rheumatoid Arthritis: Similarities Differences And Why A Misdiagnosis Can Be Deadly

Home » Tick Talk » Lyme Disease and Rheumatoid Arthritis: Similarities, Differences and Why a Misdiagnosis Can be Deadly

Because its symptoms mimic those of so many other diseases both tick-borne and otherwise Lyme disease is often misdiagnosed. One of the most common Lyme disease misdiagnoses is Rheumatoid Arthritis , a chronic condition with less clear causes than Lyme disease.

Though there are many fundamental differences between these two conditions, its true that arthritic pain stemming from Lyme disease can often look like RA. In fact, Lyme was first discovered and documented in part because of a group of children presenting with arthritis symptoms in Lyme, Connecticut.

So, if youre experiencing joint pain, how can you tell the difference? If youve been bitten by a tick or think youre at risk for a tick-borne disease, its extremely important not to delay seeking medical attention or ignore any arthritic pain that might be associated with Lyme disease. Continue reading to better understand the differences and similarities between Lyme disease and arthritis.

Lyme Disease: Causes and Risk Factors

Lyme disease is a tick-borne infectious disease caused by the spiral-shaped bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato. Though Lyme is treatable with antibiotics, it can worsen, change symptoms, spread to the neurological system, become a chronic condition, and even become life-threatening if not diagnosed and treated right away.

Common Symptoms of Lyme Disease

Key Points For Healthcare Providers

What is Lyme Disease &  How Can It Cause Joint Pain
  • Antibody-based Lyme disease tests have excellent sensitivity in patients with Lyme arthritis. PCR can be used as an adjunctive diagnostic test to identify DNA in synovial fluid but should not be the first lab test used.
  • Lyme arthritis can be mistaken for septic arthritis, especially in children. Whereas septic arthritis may require surgical intervention, Lyme arthritis generally does not.
  • Talk to patients about tick bite prevention.
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    Prevention Of Lyme Arthritis

    Preventive measures to avoid or minimize tick bites are important and may include landscaping measures, removal of deer from specific areas, wearing appropriate clothing such as pants tucked into socks, and tick repellants. In areas where ticks are common, its important to check your child frequently and remove any ticks. Ticks may remain on your childs skin for hours before attaching themselves, so checking for ticks after coming inside may help remove them before they attach.

    Why Does Lyme Arthritis Happen

    After Borrelia invades a human host, its corkscrew shape allows it to migrate throughout the body, including the joints. Infected joints may present with visible swelling and pain. In many cases, the initial symptoms of a Lyme infection, such as fever, flu-like symptoms, or a rash, will have disappeared by the time LA develops.

    As weve so often come to expect when sifting through information about Lyme, theres some controversy in the medical community as to whether LA is caused by an overabundance of inflammatory chemicals, an autoimmune response, or chronic, low-grade infections. Patients who have dealt with LA tend to fit into one of three categories:

  • People who have resolution of LA after antibiotic therapy for an acute Lyme infection
  • People who receive treatment for an acute infection, but remain symptomatic with LA
  • People who are undiagnosed for months or years and develop persistent symptoms of LA
  • Though we may not have all the answers as to why LA occurs in some people and not in others, Dr. Rawls believes the immune system plays a crucial role in combating the distressing symptoms.

    Theres good evidence that antibiotics dont eradicate Borrelia from the body, says Dr. Rawls about the stealth pathogen. The microbe wants to quietly set up shop in nutrient-rich tissues like collagen and joints until it can move to another host via a tick bite. The only thing that keeps bacteria in check is your immune system.

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    What You Need To Know About Joint Pain Lyme And Chronic Joint Pain

    You should seek medical attention for any pain you experience. If the pain is caused by an infection, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. You can take over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. If your pain is more intense, you can try heating or applying ice to the joint. Alternatively, you can also try applying heat to the affected area. To relieve the pain, you should stay away from the activities that cause you to have joint pain. A doctor can prescribe you dietary supplements, such as glucosamine, that are effective in reducing your symptoms.

    If you fall or are hit on the leg and notice any swelling or deformity in your knee, you should seek medical attention. If you cant put weight on your leg, it could be a sign of a more serious ailment. If you are experiencing any of these signs and symptoms, you should consult a doctor immediately. The most important thing to do is to be patient and do not panic. The pain you experience is normal and is not related to any other health problems.

    Lyme And Chronic Joint Pain Osteoarthritis is a condition that causes degeneration of the joints. People suffering from this disease will suffer from chronic pain in their joints and stiffness. They may also suffer from depression and sleep disturbances. Fortunately, there are treatments for osteoarthritis. These treatments include a change of diet and exercise. The good news is that you can get relief from your osteoarthritis symptoms today.

    When To Consider Testing For Lyme

    Symptoms & Manifestations of Lyme Disease

    You might be wondering if your joint pain could be related to Lyme disease, especially if youve had a blacklegged tick bite in the past.

    The CDC estimates that a staggering 90% of cases of Lyme disease may go undiagnosed in the US each year. So while approximately 30,000 reported cases of Lyme reported annually, as noted, the actual number of cases may be closer to 300,000.

    Lyme disease is often called the great imitator, because it mirrors many other diseases. These include, but are not limited to, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis. Unfortunately, unless you live in an area considered Lyme endemic, such as the northeastern United States, most conventional doctors may not think to test you for Lyme.

    If your symptoms include waxing and waning flu-like symptoms, brain fog, fatigue, or joint pain, and if you think you may have had a tick bite in the past, consider asking your doctor for a test for Lyme disease. Remember that some people with Lyme experience have all of the above symptoms and more, while some experience just one. Also be aware that the ELISA test commonly given by conventional doctors is not always accurate, as it tests for antibodies that may or may not be present at the time of testing. My initial ELISA test came back negative it had been a year since my initial tick bite but my symptoms were in full force.

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    Lyme Disease And The Cdc

    In order for the Centers for Disease Control to recognize a Lyme case for surveillance purposes, there must be objective findings, such as positive blood tests, Bells palsy or joint swelling . The chart below reflects the CDC-reviewed surveillance case manifestations from 2001 to 2010.

    This situation contributes to what many experts view as severe undercounting of Lyme disease by the CDC.

    Lyme Arthritis: Symptoms Diagnosis And Treatment

    According to the Lyme Disease Association, Lyme disease is affecting people worldwide and is in more than 80 countries worldwide. The Center for Disease Control defines Lyme disease as:

    A systemic, tick-borne disease with protean manifestations, including dermatologic, rheumatologic, neurologic, and cardiac abnormalities.

    Initial symptoms may include a rash that appears like a bullseye around the spot of the tick bite. Lyme disease can affect the nervous, musculoskeletal, and cardiovascular systems.

    Additional symptoms are feeling tired for no specific reason, flu-like symptoms, stiff neck, myalgia, and arthralgia. Lets focus on arthralgia, also referred to as arthritis, among people living with Lyme disease.

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    How You Get Lyme Disease

    If a tick bites an animal carrying the bacteria that cause Lyme disease, the tick can become infected. The tick can then transfer the bacteria to a human by biting them.

    Ticks can be found in any areas with deep or overgrown plants where they have access to animals to feed on.

    They’re common in woodland and moorland areas, but can also be found in gardens or parks.

    Ticks don’t jump or fly. They climb on to your clothes or skin if you brush against something they’re on. They then bite into the skin and start to feed on your blood.

    Generally, you’re more likely to become infected if the tick is attached to your skin for more than 24 hours. Ticks are very small and their bites are not painful, so you may not realise you have one attached to your skin.

    Victims And Doctors May Overlook Signs

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    We often hear that a bulls-eye rash is the classic Lyme marker. But the more common rash if you have one at all is a round or oval-shaped reddish or pinkish area that starts small and expands in size, said Fallon, author with Dr. Jennifer Sotsky of Conquering Lyme Disease.

    Black-legged ticks, or deer ticks, are in the nymph stage when they spread Lyme disease. The size of a poppy seed, they can easily be overlooked. Many people dont realize theyve been bitten.

    That uncertainty can lead doctors to discount the possibility of Lyme disease in their patients, although symptoms may point in that direction. Fallon said. And even when doctors test for the disease, the results can be inconclusive. For example, in the first four to six weeks after a tick bite, people with Lyme disease will likely test negative because antibodies have not yet had time to develop, according to the CDC.

    If you feel your doctor is not taking your concerns seriously, Fallon said, you should seek someone else, and perhaps someone who has more knowledge of tick-borne diseases.

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    Practical Assessment And Treatment Of Pain Arthritis And Fibromyalgia In Lyme Disease

    Pain is common in early and late-stage Lyme disease. The first, and most important, step is proper testing to determine if Lyme disease and/or associated infections are the cause of the pain. Bacteria from tickborne infections can directly damage joints, trigger an immune response that creates inflammation, and cause an autoimmune reaction that leads to pain.

    If symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, fevers, or brain fog are present along with pain, this suggests a systemic infection may be involved. Infections can trigger autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, so a thorough investigation is warranted. Multiple therapies can help reduce pain and inflammation caused by Lyme disease and associated infections, but ultimately successful treatment of the infections is most important.

    How Do You Get Lyme Disease

    In the U.S., Lyme disease is carried primarily by deer or blacklegged ticks, and it is caused by the Borrelia mayonii and Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria. Its easy to be bitten by ticks in high-risk areas such as Central PA. The creatures are often no bigger than a poppy seed, so they are very difficult to see before they latch on.

    However, not all ticks are Lyme disease carriers. To contract the disease, an infected tick needs to bite you. Bacteria from the tick will eventually make its way from the bite through to your bloodstream, usually taking between 36 to 48 hours. For this reason, whenever youve been in the outdoors, particularly in a known tick-heavy area, you should always check your body for parasites before you come back inside.

    In the two primary stages of life, U.S. deer ticks feed on rodents, which are a prime source of the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. Ticks move onto feeding primarily on white-tailed deer when they reach adulthood.

    If you find a swollen tick attached to you, it could have fed for long enough to transmit bacteria and should be removed with tick tweezers as soon as possible to prevent infection.

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    Key Points To Remember

    • Most Lyme disease tests are designed to detect antibodies made by the body in response to infection.
    • Antibodies can take several weeks to develop, so patients may test negative if infected only recently.
    • Antibodies normally persist in the blood for months or even years after the infection is gone therefore, the test cannot be used to determine cure.
    • Infection with other diseases, including some tickborne diseases, or some viral, bacterial, or autoimmune diseases, can result in false positive test results.
    • Some tests give results for two types of antibody, IgM and IgG. Positive IgM results should be disregarded if the patient has been ill for more than 30 days.

    How To Avoid Getting Lyme Disease

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    Of course, the best way to conquer Lyme disease is to avoid it in the first place, said Thomas Mather, a professor of public health entomology at the University of Rhode Island and director of the Tick Encounter Resource Center.

    That has become harder to do. The dramatic increase in cases of Lyme disease is likely due to the movement of white-tailed deer into semi-urban settings, Mather said. The ticks need those deer to reproduce.

    Mather urges these precautions:

    • Be aware of which ticks are present in your geographical area. Also, what time of year theyre most active.
    • Use tick repellent. The CDC says it should contain 20 percent or more DEET, picaridin or IR3535 on exposed skin.
    • Use a permethrin spray on clothing, including shoes, socks and pants. You can also buy clothing that has been pre-treated with permethrin.
    • Do a daily tick check, even if youre just out in your yard or garden. Ticks can attach to your shoes and crawl up the inside of your pants leg.
    • Keep an eye on your pets. They can bring into your house ticks that may simply fall off and land on your rug or furniture.

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