If diagnosis and treatment are delayed, the chances of developing peripheral neuropathy increase greatly.
This is been called the great imitator. Unfortunately, patients who suffer through Lyme Disease oftentimes end up with neurologic disorders that mimic a whole host of neurologic conditions, including the development of peripheral neuropathy.
A major reason for concern is the prevalence of Lyme disease and peripheral neuropathy. This illness is endemic in some parts of United States, especially including the Northeast United States and other wooded areas. It is especially prevalent upon the island of Nantucket where I spend a lot of time.
I have seen patients on the island with a variety of neurologic symptoms, as well as arthritic symptoms. Prior to the understanding of that the Lyme Disease bacteria was causing these symptoms, patients were often discounted as having psychiatric conditions.
Now, we (mostly) know better. I still see occasions where clinicians are slow to consider a Lyme diagnosis.
This can be practically dangerous is if the patient is suffering from neurological signs and symptoms. Some of these include tingling, numbness, burning or shooting pains. Sometimes, patients develop Bell’s palsy, a facial nerve paralysis.
It is also very important to understand that the classic presentation of an insect bite and a “bulls eye” rash does not always occur. I’ve seen several cases with an initial presentation of headache, fatigue, and/or flu-like symptoms, usually accompanied by significant fever. Too often, I have seen it misdiagnosed as the flu.
It is very important to establish a diagnosis early. If diagnosis and treatment are delayed, the chances of developing peripheral neuropathy greatly increases.
In addition to neuropathy symptoms, arthritic symptoms can and do often develop.
Establishing the Lyme disease diagnosis early on is essential to successful treatment and shortening neuropathy recovery time!
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