Lyme disease

Question

I had a swollen knee and a pain and I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis 2 month ago. I am 53 years old, not overweight and before that problem exercised regularly and did not have any medical problems. Now I started to feel pain in my heap joints, in two of my fingers and both knee. Three month ago I had a tick bite, I went to emergency but the doctor did not notice something suspicious and blood test was not done. I wonder now is there any change that my family doctor can confuse osteoarthritis with Lyme arthritis. The x-ray of knees was done. On other joint problem, which developed later my doctor does not want to pay attention because it is not in severe pain yet. Thank you

Answer

HI Larisa,

It is usually pretty hard to confuse Lyme arthritis with osteoarthritis.  Generally, Lyme arthritis causes very marked warmth and swelling of a single joint, usually knee or ankle.  Rarely it can affect more than one joint.  Osteoarthritis, on the other hand, is more insidious pain and usually without a great deal of swelling or warmth.  As aspiration of the knee, if swollen, can discern whether the fluid is inflammatory or not and this will help in the diagnosis.  A blood test for Lyme disease is most helpful is well.  IF in doubt, see a rheumatologist to get the diagnosis straightened out.

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.