Lyme's Disease ~ It's Ticking Time...

Category: Lyme's Disease Published on Wednesday, 25 June 2008 Written by Yong Tsai, MD

If you’ve lived in the Northeast, especially New York state, you’re probably familiar with the “tick check”: a head to toe inspection for ticks after spending time outside. To many, however, finding a tick embedded in their skin can be alarming, and sometimes with good reason.

First discovered in the early 1970’s, in Lyme, Connecticut, Lyme’s disease has since been reported in fifteen states within three regions: Maine to Maryland, Wisconsin and Minnesota, and as far West as Northern California and Oregon.

This infection is caused by the transmission of the Borrelia budgodorferi organism to humans by way of an infected Ixode tick bite. Research has shown that species of Ixode ticks vary within geographic regions and due to an abundance of hosts such as deer and white-footed mice, the Ixode dammini species has succeeded in forming an explosive tick population along the Eastern seaboard.

Why the B. burgdorferi organism causes Lyme’s disease is not clear, but it is believed to trigger an over active immune response, thus causing inflammation and tissue damage.

Typically, symptoms occur following a tick bite and progress in three stages. Stage 1 includes fever, headache, and flu-like symptoms with a characteristic bright-red circular rash called erythema migrans, at the site of the tick bite. Stage 2 may include signs of inflammation of the heart and nervous system, severe headache, neck pain, and facial paralysis, while arthritis symptoms, especially in the knees, marks Stage 3.

An ELISA blood test, for Lyme’s, is usually ordered to determine the presence of antibodies to B. burgdorferi. If the ELISA test is positive and the patient’s clinical picture is suspicious, a specific B. burgdorferi antibody detector test called a Western Blot will be performed for diagnosis confirmation.

In order to prevent complications such as arthritis and neurological disorders, early detection and antibiotic treatment is crucial. Unfortunately, some patients with Lyme’s disease continue to experience symptoms such as headache, cognitive difficulties, chronic fatigue, and persistent muscle and joint pain for months to even years, after the organism has been eliminated through early antibiotic treatment.

Don’t push the panic button yet. Statistically proven, it isn’t that easy to contract Lyme’s disease: the tick must carry the B. burgdorferi and remain embedded for at least 36 to 48 hours to spread infection. And while up to 40% of ticks are infected, only about 1 to 3% of tick bites will result is Lyme’s disease.

So, if you find an embedded tick, remove it carefully, making sure you both the body and head are removed, and cleanse the area thoroughly. Simple precautions such as using DEET insect repellent, wearing long sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors in affected areas, can be taken to prevent ticks for finding you.

Interestingly, many other activities can cause tennis or golfers’ elbow: bowling, excessive writing or wrapping, and repeated throwing, such as baseballs and Frisbees.

Initial treatment for both tennis and golfer’s elbow should include a combination of NSAIDS and physical therapy, along with local hot and cold pack applications, counter braces, and technique instruction. Acute cases can even be resolved after a corticosteroid injection into the affected tendon. Finally, repetitive activity that may aggravate your condition should be, if not avoided, then at least decreased.

You can swing and putt your way back on the court and green. All you need is to do like the pros: warm-up, strengthen and use your muscles wisely. It’s all part of their technique.

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