Lyme Disease Symptoms Vary: Making Diagnosis Difficult

Lyme disease, transmitted by deer ticks, is a tricky illness to diagnose. With a trifecta of qualities stacked against us, we can suffer from Lyme disease for weeks and months without ever suspecting it. 

First, ticks can be as tiny as a poppy seed. They have perfectly designed bodies for staying securely attached, unnoticed for a several day feast on our blood. They love embedding themselves behind knees, in armpits and other places that easily go unseen.

Secondly, the symptoms of Lyme are flu-like, headaches, fever, muscle aches, joint pains and most can be attributed to many other illnesses. The one distinct symptom, a bullseye rash, is only present in 70-80% of cases, can look different with each individual, and go unseen in the hiding place where the tick was embedded. The combination of all these symptoms can be different in every case.

Thirdly, the current methods for testing for Lyme disease in humans are inaccurate in that if a person with Lyme is tested early in illness, the test will come back negative. If they have received antibiotics and are tested later, the antibiotics can affect the test results. So, when symptoms first appear there is no quick way, if we don’t suspect Lyme to test for Lyme to rule it out or diagnose it definitively.

A Specific & Unique Case of Lyme

A patient recently recovered from a Lyme disease infection lives in a suburban subdivision with small lots and a single row of trees with underbrush between the backyard and the homes outside of the neighborhood. The region in which he lives is known mostly for American dog ticks, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. 
When muscle pain and joint pain came on suddenly and wide-spread, no one suspected Lyme. Everyone was thinking a pinched nerve. After consulting a Chiropractor, who expressed concern that it was something more serious, he showed his wife the red spot the Chiropractor saw on the back of the knee. It was a disseminated bulls-eye rash, typical of Lyme but looking much different as the rings spread out and wrapped around his knee.

Ticks Like Tall Grass and Shady Spots

Within 24 hours of beginning doxycycline, the four days of progressively worsening muscle and joint pain began to improve. It is important to remember that Lyme symptoms are not all or none. Every patient has a different experience. This lucky Lyme patient had no fever, no headache and did not go hiking deep in the woods. He would undoubtedly still be undergoing a barrage of unnecessary orthopedic or rheumatology tests and exams if the Chiropractor hadn’t spotted the rash. He could have suffered chronic Lyme for months or longer. Tiny deer ticks can live in all tall grasses, shrubbery, and underbrush where other mammals can carry them – even in small suburban yards.

Many with Lyme Go Undiagnosed

Many suffer without learning the cause. Knowing how to avoid ticks and how to check for ticks after exposure is essential to catching Lyme disease early to receive treatment and the best chance for a quick and complete recovery. In Minneapolis, deer ticks and Lyme are quite common. With Intensive Tick Treatment from Mosquito Squad of the Twin Cities, you’ll enjoy more than 90% fewer ticks on your property, whether big, small, wooded or bare; lowering your risk for Lyme when you spend time in your own yard. Call today to sign up.