Is there a link between Lyme disease and RA?

Question

My 16 year old son was diagnosed with lyme disease less than a year ago. He went into stage 3 heart block before he was properly diagnosed. His doctor now thinks he has RA. Is this treatable? What is the link between lyme disease and RA? Will he beable to still play guitar? Kimberly Cahill-Fulp

Answer

HI Kimberly,

There is no particular link between Lyme disease/arthritis and RA.  They have totally different causes and generally present very differently.  Lyme arthritis usually involves one knee or one ankle, or less commonly two joints.  RA usually (but not always) begins in multiple small joints of the hands and feet.  Heart block is a definite complication of Lyme disease and very very very rare in RA.  The treatment for the two conditions is very very different, so an accurate diagnosis is important.  IF in doubt, I would suggest that you take your son to a rheumatologist for further evaluation.  Good luck !!

Joan Bathon, M.D.

About Joan Bathon, M.D.

Dr. Bathon was a Co-Deputy Director of the Division of Rheumatology at Hopkins Bayview. She was also the founder and director of the Hopkins Arthritis Center.