When the weather gets warm there are many changes that happen to our bodies as well as with Mother Nature. Sometimes, it is Mother Nature that causes changes to our bodies, i.e. allergies, season aches and pains, sunburn, etc. A caution that should be instituted to all who are venturing outdoors specifically in the Northeast region of the United States, is that of tick season. We are in the thick of it and everyone should know how to protect themselves from these little critters that are so small you may not see or even feel them when they are on you. Ticks and deer tick (Ixodes) specifically; have the ability to carry a disease that is called Lyme disease, or Lyme borreliosis. Lyme disease is caused by the bacteria which is a spirochete called Borrelia burgdorferi, and it is an infectious disease that can be transmitted to humans if a person is bitten by a tick. Most cases of tick bites with Lyme disease occur from May to September.
The earliest symptom of Lyme disease or a bite by a tick is a cutaneous manifestation on the skin characterized by erythematous (red circular “bulls-eye”) annular patches, often with a central erythematous papule at tick bite site. This classic sign of early local infection with Lyme disease is a circular, outwardly expanding rash called erythema chronicum migrans (EM), which can occur at the site where the tick bite anywhere from 3 to 30 days. The “bulls-eye “rash may present as red and warm, but is generally painless. The inner most part of the “bulls-eye” rash has been known to be tender and in some cases painful upon touch or pressure. Patients can begin to experience flu-like symptoms, such as headache, muscle soreness, fever, and malaise. Then days or weeks later infection spreads with swelling & pain of large joints, aseptic meningitis, encephalitis, AV block, myocarditis, etc.
The late stages of the disease occur after several months, if untreated patients may begin to develop severe symptoms that affect many parts of the body. Lyme disease can affect the brain, nerves, eyes, joints, and heart. There can be permanent damage or even impairment of motor or sensory function of the lower extremities, foot/ankle, knees and legs. Neuropathy can also develop, which is also seen in diabetic patients, and those inflicted with Lyme disease can feel the same symptoms of nerve pain including shooting pains, numbness, and tingling in the hands or feet. Lyme disease can also affect the brain with concentration and short-memory.
Treatment for Lyme disease includes a course of antibiotics in which most patients make a full recovery. Also, after coming in from a day out walking or hiking is to be sure to inspect your legs, arms, and clothes to ensure there are no ticks on you. A thorough inspection is recommended. If you do see or suspect a tick bite, contact your doctor or local hospital immediately.
If there are any other questions feel free to contact Dr. Theall’s Gentle Touch Foot Care office for all your foot and ankle needs and concerns at 973 673- 3668. Remember to maintain a balanced for your bodies’ needs, and your body will take care of you.