PT on the Net Research

Lyme Disease


Question:

My mother has second stage lyme disease. Do you have any suggestions regarding her exercise and recovery?

Answer:

Thank you for your question. Lyme Disease is defined as an acute inflammatory disease transmitted by ticks and characterized by recurrent episodes of decreasing severity in which joint swelling, fever and rash occur, sometimes with cardiac or nervous system complications. The Journal of the American Medicine Association states that most people recover fully from having the disease after being treated with an aggressive antibiotic regimen. I will assume she is currently on doxycycline or amoxicillin. Both are strong treatments that can be taken over time to fight the disease from the inside out. As far as the joint stiffness and pain she is experiencing, often times a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication such as napirsin will really help.

As far as the exercise is concerned, she will be her own best trainer. I would suggest doing non-impact exercise with only her body weight. She can do this as often as she can tolerate. Pain should be her guide. If it hurts at all, don’t have her do it. Many people with this type of ailment like doing exercise in the pool. I am not sure where her rash is located or if chlorine may aggravate it. Most people with the rash associated with lyme disease do not have discomfort from it, but once again, she will be her own expert. One can only imagine what you and your family are going through. Please take comfort in the knowledge that this disease has been around awhile and doctors now understand the condition better than before. There is a web site called lymenet.org that can really help more with the total care and treatment of lyme’s disease. On the site, you may wish to chat with others who are in your situation and have gone through it. I could not locate any source that had any viable exercise suggestions other than what was suggested here.

I wish both you and your mother a speedy recovery.

References:

  1. Gardner P (2000). Long-term outcomes and management of patients with Lyme disease. JAMA, 283(5): 658–659.
  2. Smith RP, et al. (2002). Clinical characteristics and treatment outcome of early Lyme disease in patients with microbiologically confirmed erythema migrans. Annals of Internal Medicine, 136: 421–428.