Deer TickToday’s blog is a bit of a departure for me from my usual topics. I’d rather be talking about holistic pain relief! But it’s come to my attention lately that many people living with chronic pain may have Lyme Disease (LD). Either they had LD all along and were misdiagnosed, or LD caused or exacerbated the chronic pain condition they eventually developed. (NOTE: This is a non-scientific generalization. I’m including resource links below for more scientific information.)

I want to just take a moment here and raise awareness about this tricky tick-borne illness. It’s more epidemic than most of us realize!

Lyme Disease, also known as Lyme Borreliosis, is an infectious tick-borne disease caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. First recognized in the town of Lyme, Connecticut in 1975, this disease has since spread to nearly every continent and is most prevalent in North America and Western Europe. Recent statistics claim Lyme Disease to be an epidemic on par with, if not exceeding, that of HIV and AIDS, and while it was once believed to be centralized in New England, the Eastern, Mid-West, and Western United States now show a high-incidence rate, making it one of the fastest-growing infectious diseases in the country. In 2013, the Centers for Disease Control CDC revised their estimated new cases each year from 30,000 to 300,000.

Land development has stirred these ticks – the carriers of Lyme Disease — from their habitat of primarily wooded areas to more suburban environments, which researchers believe may be a factor for the rapid spreading of the disease.

Lyme Disease is spread when a person (or animal, as in the case of canine-Lyme Disease) is bitten by a tick that has been infected with Borrelia burgdorferi, a corkscrew-shaped spirochete (“spear – o – keete”) with similar physical components to Syphilis. When the infected tick feeds on the host, the bacteria is transmitted into the bloodstream, eventually making its way into tissue and manifesting itself into a multi-systemic disease, affecting the musculoskeletal, central nervous, and cardiovascular systems.

Wondering how all this applies to chronic pain? Simple. Lyme Disease is known as the “Great Imitator” because it mimics other multi-systemic diseases such as Lupus, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromayalgia, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Multiple Sclerosis. In fact, LD was originally called “Lyme arthritis” because of the symptoms evident in the months following infection. Many of these diseases have a pain-related component, so ruling out Lyme Disease is important to relieving your pain.

Here are some pain-related symptoms typical of Lyme Disease: fatigue, swollen knees, stiff joints (especially the neck), myalgia or arthritis, headaches, back pain, jaw pain, and sleep disturbance. There are many other LD symptoms—these are just some related to chronic pain.

When you ask your health care provider about testing, be sure you know the facts. There are two tests: ELISA and Western Blot. ELISA is known to have a 65% sensitivity rating. This means it’s likely to miss a whopping 35% of truly positive results.

You really want to have the Western Blot test done, and to be sure that your provider is well versed in how to interpret the results relative to Lyme Disease. You can find more information by clicking on the links below. Be educated before you talk to your health care provider. It’ll help you get to the right answer more quickly!

You need to know; this is an extremely simplified article about an extremely complex disease. Here are other sources of valuable information. Please check them out.


Much of this information was gathered by my friend Susan Pogorzelski, blogger and author. Thanks for everything Susan!


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