Last summer, I wrote about how Lyme disease is becoming the “new plague.” Confirmed, and more importantly, unconfirmed cases are reaching epidemic proportions in the USA. In fact experts estimate there are likely over 300,000 new cases every year that go unreported.
Which is why today I want to make you aware of an often-overlooked symptom of this debilitating disease.
A recent study published in The Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (JAAOS) revealed that a condition called spontaneous knee effusion can be a primary, but often missed symptom of Lyme disease. The more common term for this condition is “water on the knee” and it occurs when excess fluid builds up around the knee joint. Obviously, there’s swelling involved, but it may or may not be painful. And unfortunately, testing you for Lyme is probably the last thing most doctors would do if you went to them with a swollen knee.
So if you notice any unexplained swelling in your knee, see your doctor as soon as possible and ask to be tested for Lyme. Even if you don’t remember seeing a tick on your body. And even if you didn’t have the telltale “bullseye” rash.
The fact is, 50 percent of people who are infected with Lyme do not recall being bit, or get the rash. They just come down with symptoms “out of the blue,” which may include fatigue, chills, fever, headache, muscle and joint aches, swollen lymph nodes.
And in many cases, an unexplained swollen knee.
The current protocol to diagnose Lyme disease is a two-tier blood test. But Lyme cannot always be detected in red blood cells. There are other tests that can be done, especially if someone has fluid on their knee. Extracting the synovial fluid and sending it to the lab can confirm Lyme.
The conventional protocol calls for just two weeks of antibiotics, but I often prescribe antibiotics for several months. I’ve found a longer course to be far more effective than a shorter one. And, as you know, I don’t prescribe antibiotics lightly…I wouldn’t put my patients through a rigorous protocol if it wasn’t absolutely necessary.
The good news is, with this sort of intensive treatment, they do get better. And you can too, if you’re diagnosed with Lyme. But this is another instance where you have to be your own health advocate. So keep an eye out for the symptoms I described above. If you notice any of them, please go to a doctor and get tested. Lyme is very serious and shouldn’t be ruled out until some other condition is confirmed.