Painful knees can make it challenging to perform the most basic tasks in daily living, such as walking and bending the knees to sit down or stand up. When both knees are equally painful, the symmetrical pain is usually from rheumatoid arthritis. However, when only one knee is affected, it could be caused by the bite of a tick that led to Lyme disease and, in turn, Lyme arthritis.
Lyme arthritis can occur co-morbidly in some people when they are infected with Lyme disease. Here's why and what you can do for treatment if you are diagnosed with Lyme arthritis.
Why does Lyme disease affect knees?
Bacteria from the bite of a tick cause Lyme disease. The cell walls of bacteria are made of sugars and proteins formed in a grid-like pattern. This is called peptidoglycan. Usually, bacteria shed this wall and then reuse it after the cells multiply. But that doesn't seem to happen with Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria that cause Lyme disease. Instead, the cell walls are not reused and collect in the joints and cause an inflammatory response in the joints as antibodies try to fight off the bacteria remnants. The inflammation, in turn, causes the joints to be stiff. The definition of arthritis is painful inflammation and stiffness of the joints.
How is Lyme arthritis treated?
Lyme disease and Lyme arthritis are both treated with oral antibiotics. If symptoms continue to persist after oral antibiotics have been completed, then antibiotics should be given intravenously. This is known as an infusion. These antibiotic infusions are given in a clinic on a daily basis for two to four weeks, depending on the severity of the symptoms and test results. The dosages and time frame will be determined by blood test results to see how many bacteria and/or bacteria remnants are in your blood.
While receiving infusions to treat Lyme disease and Lyme arthritis, your physician may also recommend infusions to treat other possible symptoms you may be experiencing due to the Lyme infection, such as anemia, thyroid deficiencies, and vitamin and nutrient deficiencies. Since Lyme disease can affect multiple body systems, it's important to discuss all symptoms you're feeling with the clinic that will give you the infusion so they can provide you with a personalized infusion treatment plan based on your diagnoses and test results as well as your symptoms. As always, follow your physician's instructions before, during, and after infusion therapy treatments.
To learn more about infusion therapy, contact a clinic in your area like the Idaho Arthritis Center.