Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne disease in the United States and Europe. Increased awareness of the clinical manifestations of the disease is needed to improve detection and treatment.
In the acute and late stages, Lyme disease may be difficult to distinguish from other disease processes. The epidemiology and pathophysiology of Lyme disease are directly related to the Borrelia burgdorferi spirochete and its effects on the integumentary, neurologic, cardiac, and musculoskeletal systems.
Lyme arthritis is a common clinical manifestation of Lyme disease and should be considered in the evaluation of patients with monoarticular [single] or pauciarticular [several] joint complaints in a geographic area in which Lyme disease is endemic.
Management of Lyme arthritis involves eradication of the spirochete with antibiotics. Generally, the prognosis is excellent. Arthroscopic synovectomy [surgical removal of diseased joint lining] is reserved for refractory cases that do not respond to antibiotics.
Source: Journal of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, Feb 2011;19(2)91-100. Smith BG, Cruz AI, Milewski MD, Shapiro ED. Yale University School of Medicine and School of Public Health, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.
[Note: See also "A Case revealing the natural history of untreated Lyme disease."]