Lyme arthritis and tick bites

Question

I had a tick bite with a typical rash. The blood test however was negative. I was on antibiotics for 21days which eased the symptoms(joint pains and early morning stiffness of hands). After 3 months I am having the same pains again. My Doctor is not sure if it is Rheumatiod Arthritis or re-occuring arthriris of Lymes Disease as the blood test is negative for both. What is the Differential Diagnosis for Lymes arthritis and Rheumatiod Arthritis, in terms of the symptoms.

Answer

Dear Kasi,

If your blood test is negative on both occasions in which it has been tested, this is almost assuredly not Lyme disease.   There are many causes of joint pain.  Rheumatoid arthritis is one of the most common of them.  It generally causes a lot of stiffness in the joints in the morning but the hallmark is swelling of the joints, usually the small joints of the hands, wrists and balls of the feet in the beginning.

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.