Radiculitis may occur with Lyme disease as infection causes a localized inflammatory reaction in the root of a nerve or somewhere along the nerve itself. These symptoms may be experienced as something similar to sciatica or a trapped or pinched nerve which means that many patients will simply put them down to a cause other than Lyme disease.
Abnormal muscle innervation by a dysfunctional nerve or nerves can cause muscle spasms, cramps, problems controlling movement, pain, numbness, and weakness. Pain maps can help identify the likely location of nerve inflammation and the root of the radiculitis symptoms.
Where Lyme disease remains untreated the infection may lead to a more widespread involvement of the nervous system, and peripheral neuropathy may occur. Lyme neuropathy of this kind can result in parasthesias with numbness and tingling, or altered sensation and possible weakness in the limbs and extremities. Some patients may feel a sensation like pins and needles in their fingers and toes which can then turn to numbness over time. The loss of normal sensitivity, coordination, and movement in the hands and feet can cause serious injury to occur as patients become less mobile and may not realize when their digits or limbs are being damaged by excess heat or cold. Burn injuries may become a problem for patients with peripheral neuropathy that goes untreated or unresolved.
Most cases of Lyme neuropathy are thought to resolve themselves over time but antibiotic treatment to clear the infection helps to shorten their longevity. A two to four week course of an antibiotic such as doxycycline is considered routine, with other antibiotics sometimes given either orally or intravenously, such as ceftriaxone or penicillin depending on the patient’s symptoms, severity of the condition, and other factors such as pregnancy, lactation, or other illnesses or allergies. Unless long-term and severe Lyme disease neuropathy has occurred, most cases are resolved with antibiotic treatment and symptoms fully reversed.