Lyme disease is an infection that is carried by deer ticks. An infected tick can transmit the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferito the humans and animals it bites, and can cause intense pain and suffering.
Lyme disease can affect many areas of the body and is often misdiagnosed. It can mimic a wide variety of conditions including fibromyalgia, depression, chronic fatigue syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis.
Delaying Lyme Disease Treatment Can Be Dangerous
If diagnosed and treated early with antibiotics, Lyme disease is almost always curable. If treatment is delayed, up to 60 percent of patients will develop what’s known as “Lyme arthritis,” a painful swelling of the knees and other joints. Symptoms may not manifest itself for months or years later, which is why many people put off seeking treatment after a tick bite. At that point, the condition can only be managed, not cured.
“Untreated Lyme disease can lead to long-term joint and nerve pain,” says Dr. Aaron Miranda, a pain management specialist with Physician Partners of America in Carrollton, Texas. “We have many ways of addressing the chronic pain associated with this condition.”
How Lyme Disease is Treated
A primary care physician is usually the first to treat Lyme disease. The first course of treatment is antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medication. With antibiotics such as doxycycline or amoxicillin, doctors can help reduce the swelling of the joints, making them less painful. A 28-day supply will usually be enough to rid the majority of patients of any swelling and pain. However, if the symptoms persist, another 28-day treatment would be prescribed, possibly intravenously.
Best Treatments for Lyme Arthritis and Nerve Pain
If left untreated long enough. Lyme disease can cause long-term damage to joints and nerves. At that point, sufferers should consider visiting an interventional pain management physician. These specialists treat pain at its source instead of relying on addictive pain medications.
“After a thorough evaluation and examination, we can develop a personalized and comprehensive plan of care,” says Dr. Miranda.
To a pain management physician, Lyme disease joint pain can be treated like any other form of arthritis, while nerve pain can be treated in a number of ways.
“Some of the evidenced-based options are anti-inflammatories, neuropathic medications, and SNRI’s, which can help joint and nerve pain,” says Dr. Miranda. “Other possible treatments are physical therapy, injections, nerve blocks, and spinal cord stimulation for severe neuropathy. “
While Lyme disease is often misdiagnosed and its manifestations poorly understood, early treatment is essential for the best possible outcome. If it’s too late for early intervention, a pain management specialist can offer relief from swelling and discomfort.