Research conducted at Yale University, dating back to 1975, investigated a number of cases of patients with arthritis who were living quite close to a grassy, wooded area [1]. One of the most common symptoms noted by patients was swelling in the knee area, and a number recalled a skin rash before the swelling started. This was what we now know to be Lyme arthritis; a condition that occurs when Lyme disease enters joint tissue and causes inflammation.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Lyme arthritis accounts for around one out of every four Lyme disease cases reported to the CDC [2]. Caused by the Borrelia Burgdorferi bacteria found in the infamous black-legged tick, Lyme arthritis typically develops around one to two months following the initial infection and fortunately, it can be treated once it’s diagnosed early.

See also: The Signs and Symptoms of Lyme Disease


What type of arthritis does Lyme disease cause?


If Lyme disease goes untreated, it can progress into the later stage of the disease and spread throughout the body causing neurological problems such as Bell’s palsy or chronic joint inflammation; which experts call Lyme arthritis.

Lyme arthritis more often than not occurs in the knees, but it can also affect other large joints, including the shoulder, elbow, ankle, jaw, wrist, and hip. Patients with Lyme arthritis might notice that the joint that has been affected feels warm to the touch and will likely experience severe pain and swelling; particularly during movement.

One of the best reliable ways to know if you have Lyme disease is through a lab test.


Is Lyme arthritis curable?


Lyme arthritis can develop months after a person contracts Lyme disease. If this infection goes untreated, it can cause a number of complications including Lyme arthritis.

Fortunately, if the condition is spotted early, it can be treated with a four-week course of antibiotics. If you are still experiencing chronic joint pain and inflammation, your doctor may suggest you take a second course of antibiotic treatment. In rare cases, the pain and swelling can persist even after two courses of antibiotics [3]. If this is the case, your doctor will discuss with you the best treatment options. If the condition is not treated with antibiotics, there is a risk of damaging your joints permanently.

See also: What Happens if Lyme Disease Goes Untreated?


Can you prevent Lyme arthritis?


If you’re an avid fan of the outdoors during the sunnier months, there are some precautions that you can take in order to reduce your risk of contracting Lyme disease and having it progress and develop into Lyme arthritis.

Some simple steps to take if you find yourself in an area where Lyme disease may be common include covering up, wearing the right insect repellent, checking yourself and your pets for ticks, and removing a tick as soon as possible if you are bitten.

See also: How do you Prevent Lyme Disease? Prevention and Risk


You should get tested for Lyme disease if you have been bitten by a tick. You should especially take a Lyme disease test if the tick went undetected for over 24 hours, as there is a greater likelihood of contracting Lyme disease in these instances. If you notice Erythema migrans, ensure that you seek out testing immediately. Always bear the early symptoms in mind following significant periods spent in grassy or woodland areas.

LetsGetChecked provide an at-home Lyme Disease Test which tests the blood for antibodies that are associated with Lyme disease.

You should consider taking this test if:

  • You are presenting with symptoms of Lyme disease in the days following being bitten or having the tick removed
  • You live in a place that is rich in vegetation or woodland
  • You live in Northern America or Northern Europe
  • You go camping or hiking on a regular basis, particularly during the Summer or Autumn
  • You come into contact with larger woodland animals on a regular basis

If your symptoms are severe, go straight to your doctor.

See also: How do you Check for Lyme Disease From Home?


References


  1. Yale School of Medicine. Lyme Disease Vaccine Pioneered by Yale Researchers, Developed by SmithKline Beecham, Receives FDA Approval. Online: Medicine.yale.edu
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Lyme Arthritis. Online: Cdc.gov
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Lyme Arthritis. Online: Cdc.gov