A few people around the blogging world have come across my page and have made comments that they have Lyme disease. And when I had talked to others about how I felt before officially being diagnosed with fibromyalgia, some people asked me if it could be Lyme disease.
I have heard of lyme disease. I thought it was only in animals. My dog has Lyme, but not Lyme disease – according to the vet. Some days her back legs don’t work very well. Other days it seems like it’s harder for her to get up from lying down and she moves slowly. I often wonder if she feels how I feel on those days.
Watching her, thinking about these fellow bloggers …I have decided to do some research to see if there is a connection between lyme disease and fibromyalgia. I found out some very interesting things.
What is Lyme Disease?
Lyme disease is most famously transferred through insect bites, particularly ticks. The ticks carry parasites that are loaded with bacteria. Once these parasites are in to your blood stream they can release a type of neurotoxin that lead to memory problems; hormonal imbalances; burning neurological pain; generalized inflammation; gastrointestinal discomfort and numbness; not to mention symptoms like swollen lymph nodes; fever and chills; headache and stiff neck; muscle and joint pain; and the most common symptom, lack of energy.
A bacterial parasite is covered in antigens, which act like fingerprints, identifying itself to the immune system. When your Killer T Cells find these antigens, they know to destroy the invading bacteria. However, when the parasite burrows into the body, its antigens are smeared over healthy tissue, which the killer T cells attack because they cannot differentiate between healthy and unhealthy tissue. When this happens, it’s called an “autoimmune disease.”
The more the parasite moves through the body, the more bacteria it releases, impairing the immune system, creating inflammations, irritations and wreaking havoc to the peripheral and central nervous systems and the entire neural endocrine system. As a result, Lyme disease and its co-infections can be associated with more than 300 other diseases, including chronic fatigue syndrome and numerous autoimmune diseases. (1)
However, according to a compilation of studies, only 25 percent to 35 percent of patients who have been diagnosed with Lyme disease recall being bitten by a tick.
What is Fibromyalgia?
A general re-cap is that fibro causes moderate to severe pain everywhere in the body. A person with fibromyalgia can experience memory problems, hormonal imbalances, burning neurological pain, gastrointestinal discomfort. Patients are much more sensitive to pressure of all types, and patients report a feeling of numbness and tingling that occurs sporadically. Patients also report headache, muscle and joint pain, and severe fatigue. Currently, researchers have not found the cause of this condition.
What are the similarities?
Although fibromyalgia is relatively newly diagnosed disease and was only officially recognized by the Social Security Administration as a qualifying condition for Social Security Disability Benefits in a July 2012 ruling. Researchers are now gathering information from fibro patients that suggest that there were phases and warning signs leading up to the constant pain that is now lived with.
People who do not realize that they have Lyme disease will begin to feel pain that occurs and subsides randomly. As a result, the body’s natural response will be to cause inflammation in the joints, which will result in the individual experiencing more pain. In addition to the inflammatory response, advanced Lyme disease will increase the body’s ability to sense pain of all types by affecting the nervous system. Impairing The Body’s Immune System
Both diseases have possible triggering events.
Most research has suggested that a specific event such as an injury, infection, or illness could bring on the manifestation of fibromyalgia. Other research has said that major life stressors such as divorce, death of a family member or depression may also be a culprit. Although there is no definitive cause or cure at this time in fibromyalgia research.
In Lyme disease, certain events that can weaken the body substantially and allow the disease to manifest include; a traumatic injury, an event that triggers a release of cortisol into the body, and pregnancy. The administration of a vaccine to prevent a disease for which the body has not yet created antibodies can allow the signs of Lyme disease to become evident.
When a patient begins to experience the pain of fibromyalgia, the person’s body will be weakened, and as a result, the symptoms of Lyme disease may concurrently appear. (2)
So, as you can see… it is very interesting how they are similar and symptoms seem to piggy-back on each other. I guess the main distinction between if it’s true Lyme disease, chronic Lyme disease, or fibromyalgia is if the symptoms respond to a long course (1-4 months) of antibiotics … per research I’ve found.