Arthritis and Lyme Disease – A Connection?

Lyme disease is a bacterial infection spread through tick bites. It is the most common tick-borne disease in the northern hemisphere and packs quite a punch. Common symptoms include rash, fatigue, headache and depression. As the disease progresses, symptoms worsen and can permanently damage the heart, central nervous system, and joints. In fact, there is a direct connection between the disease and the consequent development of arthritis.

Red tick

Investigations into Lyme disease began in 1975, when numerous children were being diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis from a town in Connecticut. The primary outbreak sites were around heavily wooded areas, with the affected individuals reporting skin rashes and bites. The investigators discovered that the outbreak was caused by a bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi, transmitted by small deer ticks.

The bacterium is generally carried by deer ticks, which feed on deer throughout specific parts of the season. In recent years, hunting regulations have allowed for an exponential growth in the deer population, particularly in the northeast, leading to an increased number of Lyme disease patients. Not coincidentally, the rate of arthritis has grown as well.

If Lyme is left untreated, the disease can quickly progress, leading to what is commonly known as the early stages of arthritis. Approximately sixty-percent of those affected will develop joint issues, including inflammation, pain, and swelling.

Due to the fact that the disease can progress so quickly if left untreated, seeking immediate medical attention is absolutely paramount if you suspect having been bitten by a tick. A simple bite, left unattended, can cause a lifetime of chronic pain and inflammation. This means, always be cautious when traversing wooded areas; wear the proper protection, inspect yourself afterwards, and contact your physician if anything looks suspicious.


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