Arthritis After Lyme Disease


What Is the Connection Between Arthritis & Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease is an illness spread through ticks’ saliva. If a tick bites you, bacteria in the saliva enters your bloodstream, increasing your risk of Lyme disease.

When there is a delay in treatment, the bacteria may settle into the joints, leading to a special type of arthritis. In fact, 6 out of 10 people who do not receive timely treatment for Lyme disease develop arthritis.

At Aurora Health Care, our experts quickly and accurately diagnose arthritis after Lyme disease using blood tests and a physical exam. In most cases, you’ll receive care from a primary care doctor or arthritis expert (rheumatologist). But if the arthritis is advanced, an orthopedic specialist may be involved in your care. Learn more about how orthopedics and primary care work together for your care at Aurora.

Most people can make a full recovery after simple treatments, like antibiotics. But if your body needs help to heal, we offer treatments like physical therapy and minimally invasive surgery if others don’t work.

The Aurora Difference

Expert Care for Joint Pain from Lyme Disease

At, Aurora Health Care, our team of more than 80 orthopedic specialists has years of experience and training caring for people with joint pain and other problems, like arthritis. This has led to fast and accurate diagnoses for the people we treat so they can return to their busy lifestyles.

Highlights of our program also include:

  • Nationally recognized experts: Surgery is rarely necessary for this condition. But if other treatments fail to relieve the pain, you are in good hands. Our team includes a nationally recognized orthopedic expert specializing in arthroscopic techniques. Arthroscopy uses small incisions and sophisticated instruments to repair or remove damaged joint tissue. This surgical technique is known for less blood loss during surgery and faster recoveries for patients. Learn more about minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery.
  • Broad range of treatments: Most people get better with simple treatments, like antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications. But we also offer advanced treatments, including arthroscopy, for stubborn arthritis joint pain that just won’t quit. Learn more about treating joint problems.
  • Care you need, in one system: You’ll have access to all the specialists you need in our integrated health system. In fact, our orthopedic specialists work closely with primary care doctors and physical therapists to provide personalized treatment. And we’ll coordinate all the details of your care, including tests and follow-up appointments, so you can focus on getting better.


Signs of Arthritis After Lyme Disease

Joints are complex structures that connect bones to each other. These structures also make it possible to twist, bend and move your body. Arthritis happens when inflammation affects joint functioning.

The symptoms of arthritis after Lyme disease often come on suddenly and may include:

  • Brief periods of joint pain, swelling and stiffness
  • Pain that occurs in just one joint, typically a large one like your knee
  • Difficulty performing once simple activities, like standing from a seated position or climbing stairs
  • A popping sensation when you use the joint. Find out more about crepitus (joint popping).


Arthritis After Lyme Disease: Tests & Imaging

Our arthritis and joint pain experts use blood tests and a physical exam to accurately diagnose arthritis after Lyme disease.

Our expertise from treating a large number of people with arthritis helps us distinguish between Lyme-related arthritis and other forms of arthritis, like rheumatoid arthritis. This level of expertise helps you get the treatments you need as quickly as possible.

Find out more: Arthritis - You Should Know About the Different Types.


Treating Joint Pain from Lyme Disease

Most people feel better with the help of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications. However, as many as 1 in 10 people continue having symptoms.

When you come to Aurora, you are not out of options. Our orthopedic experts can offer additional treatments to help you get lasting relief.

Additional treatments for arthritis after Lyme disease include:

  • Physical therapy: We strengthen the muscles that support joints and relieve joint pain with the help of special exercises. Our physical therapists also teach you more comfortable ways of performing everyday activities, like getting out of a car. Learn more about orthopedic physical therapy.
  • Steroid injections: Steroids are medications that reduce pain and swelling. We use special imaging technology (ultrasound) to guide the needle to just the right spot and then inject the medication into the joint. Find out more about injections for joint pain.
  • Arthroscopy: If other treatments fail to relieve the symptoms, we examine the joint tissue during a short, minimally invasive procedure (arthroscopy). Using a thin, flexible surgical instrument (arthroscope), we evaluate the tissue and make repairs right on the spot.

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