Autoimmune Joint Disease After a Lyme Disease Infection


In this slideshow, we highlight excerpts from a study that assesses treatment options after a Lyme disease infection and an autoimmune disease diagnosis.

There are approximately 300,000 new infections of Lyme disease each year in the United States. In its late infectious and post-infectious stages, Lyme disease is characterized by joint manifestations, which often precipitate a rheumatology referral. Joint pain, with B burgdorferi antibodies, may persist for years, leading to a host of confounding symptoms. In this slideshow, we highlight excerpts from a study published in Arthritis & Rheumatology that assesses treatment options after a Lyme disease infection. The authors, led by Sheila Arvikar, M.D., of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, question the value of delaying treatment with disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs once autoimmune joint disorders set in. The study, which appears in the December 28 online issue of Arthritis & Rheumatology, is based on a review medical records for 30 patients who were referred to the Massachusetts General Hospital for suspected Lyme arthritis between 2003-2015. The patients developed a new-onset systemic autoimmune joint disorders a median of four months following Lyme disease, with the most common disorders being rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis. They also found that patients with Lyme arthritis may be taking antibiotics without benefit when disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) may be more appropriate.  For more information about this study, see the related news summary published in Rheumatology Network:  “Reconsider Post Lyme Disease Treatment Options, Study Says” 


Sheila L. Arvikar, Jameson T. Crowley, Katherine B. Sulka, et al. “Autoimmune Arthritides, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriatic Arthritis, or Peripheral Spondyloarthritis Following Lyme Disease,”Arthritis & Rheumatology. Published online December 28, 2016. DOI: 10.1002/art.39866.

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