The Many Faces of Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is often nicknamed the disease of many faces because it can affect so many different areas of the body and trigger a number of symptoms difficult to diagnose. A few of these faces include:

  • Chronic fatigue
  • Chronic bladder inflammation
  • Arthritic-like bone and joint complaints
  • Muscle weakness and stiffness
  • Nerve pain
  • Skin lesions
  • GI issues, which is the most common symptom

Because so many symptoms or complaints are involved, a patient may see a number of medical experts in different fields who are not familiar with Lyme disease. Some patients seek alternative approaches to treatment such as holistic, acupuncture, homeopathic, ozone and nutrition therapy, as well as functional medicine practitioners.

How does a Tick Cause Lyme disease?

Lyme disease is most commonly transmitted through the bite of a deer tick infected with the bacterium Borellia burgdorferi. (Numerous tick species are identified, though this species is a quite common carrier.)

An infected tick needs to be attached for at least 24 hours before the bacterium is transmitted into its human host. In some cases (average 6% according to the CDC), a nymph can transmit the bacteria in six to 24 hours. Adult ticks are about the size of a sesame seed while a nymph is the size of a poppy seed.

Signs and Symptoms of Lyme Disease

Lyme disease can affect just about every part of the human body including joints, muscles, nerves, and every organ system, hence its nickname, the “disease of many faces.” Early stages of Lyme disease symptoms include:

  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Muscle and joint aches
  • Headaches
  • Fever
  • A ‘bulls-eye’ rash may also present, along with flu-type symptoms. Not everyone will develop a rash, or may have a different appearance of rash.

As the infection worsens, a person might feel:

  • Increasingly severe and painful headaches, often accompanied by neck stiffness
  • Rashes that spread to other parts of the body
  • Debilitating joint swelling and pain in large body joints
  • Pain in the muscles, tendons, and bones
  • Heart palpitations or arrhythmias
  • Nerve pain

Lyme disease is extremely difficult to diagnose and treat due to the number of complaints and body areas affected. Conventional medicine typically treats with antibiotics. Those wary of antibiotics may turn to other alternatives for treatment, including functional medicine.

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Dr Waldo

Ralph Waldo, M.D. is a functional and integrative doctor practicing in Carmel, Indiana. He graduated from Indiana University with degrees in biology and psychology, following which he received an M.S. in Physiology and Biophysics.  In 1999 he obtained his medical degree from Indiana University School of Medicine.  

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