Fibromyalgia or Lyme Disease?
Unfortunately, many people with chronic Lyme disease have no recollection of a tick bite, no history of a rash, and no idea how they may have become infected. If an individual has any chronic health condition, ranging from arthritis to chronic fatigue syndrome to fibromyalgia, you must consider Lyme disease.
Dr. Donald Liebell D.C., B.C.A.O., B.A., says, “Droves of unfortunate souls have been disastrously doomed with the diagnosis of “fibromyalgia”… when the tick-spread bacterial infection known as Lyme disease was lurking silently below the surface—the cause of their grisly torment.”
The lesson extremely important: if all your medical tests have been normal, and you were told its fibromyalgia…
You must first rule out Lyme disease!
Many Lyme patients were firstly diagnosed with other illnesses and then found they had Lyme disease. This can include:
Arthritis – all forms,
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome,
If your “fibromyalgia” is a result of a Lyme tick bite, the “fibromyalgia medicine” you’re taking may not be appropriate. You’ll probably be shocked to discover that the symptoms of both conditions are shockingly similar! So if your family doctor or rheumatologist has pawned you off to the psychiatrist as a “nut case,” maybe you should ask if they’ve read about Lyme in their medical journals. If they want to talk being nuts, a study published in 2002 in the American Journal of Psychiatry, revealed that even 33% of psychiatric patients had signs of Lyme infection! (1)
Dr. Sam Donta has served as a Director of the Lyme Disease Unit at Boston Medical Center and a Professor of Medicine at BU Medical School. He too, has noted that chronic Lyme, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Fibromyalgia have very similar symptom patterns. As a bacteriologist, he views fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue from an infectious disease viewpoint.
The notion of a single cause for fibromyalgia/Lyme and many other diseases or syndromes is pitifully simplistic. The human body is complex, and so is illness. Diagnostic tests for Lyme and other infectious diseases have been historically flawed and inconsistent. People have a wide variety of symptoms that can be triggered or complicated by several causes. Diagnosis and treatment is not remotely as easy and accurate as it appears on television! (2)
So the beat goes on… more “fibromyalgia” diagnosis, and indefinite pharmaceutical management – with little investigation into chronic Lyme (and even less awareness of effective drugless treatments). The mantra is fibromyalgia has no cure… but it can be “managed” with prescription drugs.
Post Lyme Disease
Post Lyme Disease symptoms and Fibromyalgia are almost identical. Yet, because of the lack of antibiotic response, many doctors don’t believe in a correlation between the two diseases. Perhaps the medical profession hasn’t had time to catch up to the drastic increase over the last fourteen years of Lyme disease and its possibility of causing a lifetime of maladies.(3)
A Note on Lyme Disease: Up to 50% of Lyme disease patients develop chronic Lyme disease. Two-thirds of those bitten by an adult tick or tiny tick nymph never even know they’ve been bitten.(4) Despite antibiotic and other treatment, the Borrelia burgdorferi organism remains alive and well, periodically causing a worsening of symptoms or causing new symptoms to appear. (Of course, we know this to be solved by dissolving the Lyme biofilms.)
Lyme Disease and CFS both resemble fibromyalgia. Early Lyme disease can be diagnosed, but a delayed response or recurrence of this disorder may be mistaken for fibromyalgia.
Steve Hines, a naturopathic doctor, said about 70% of his fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue patients have zoonotic infections. Zoonosis is any infectious disease that can be transmitted from animals to humans or from humans to animals. Of the 1,415 pathogens known to affect humans, 61% are zoonotic. These infections are usually from ticks but can also be from fleas, lice, and mites.(5)
According to one study, many of the post Lyme disease (PLS) patients, who did not respond to the standard Lyme antibiotics treatment, developed fibromyalgia. Of the patients with PLS, (30%) had fibromyalgia (FM), (13%) had chronic fatigue syndrome, and (43%) had similar but milder symptoms but did not meet the criteria for either.(6)
Another study, at Tufts University, connected patients seen with Lyme disease during a 3.5-year period with fibromyalgia associated with Lyme disease. Even after the signs of Lyme disease were resolved, 14 of the 15 patients continued to have symptoms of fibromyalgia. They concluded that Lyme disease may trigger fibromyalgia, but antibiotics do not seem to be effective in the treatment of the fibromyalgia.(7)
How It Works
A Lyme spirochete is covered in antigens, which act like fingerprints, that identify it to the immune system. When your Killer T Cells find these antigens, they know to destroy the invading bacteria.
However, when the borrelia spirochete burrows into the body, its antigens are smeared overhealthy tissue. Then, the killer T cells attack it because they cannot differentiate between healthy and unhealthy tissue. When this happens, it’s called an “autoimmune disease.” This may describe why borrelia and its co-infections can be commonly found in autoimmune and rheumatic disease patients.
The more the spirochete moves through the body, the more BLPs it releases. This impairs the immune system, creating inflammations, irritations and wreaking havoc to the peripheral, central nervous systems and the entire neural endocrine system.
As a result, Lyme disease and its co-infections can be associated with more than 300 other diseases, including chronic fatigue syndrome and numerous autoimmune diseases.
Fibromyalgia develops in some people after treatment for Lyme disease. However, this is apost-infectious syndrome that is not caused by active infection with B. burgdorferi. Even in areas with high rates of Lyme disease, only a small number of all cases of fibromyalgia are actually triggered by prior infection with Lyme disease.
CFS and Fibromyalgia
Also worth considering is the connection between Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and FMS through the Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. The fancy name of HPA simply refers to a communication network of feedback interactions between the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland and the adrenal gland. Think of it as an Internet connection in your brain that controls the master hormones of the body. Abnormal levels of chemicals regulated by the HPA axis have been proposed as a potential cause of CFS.(8)
It is interesting how this relates to Lyme disease. Patients can contract an infection at any point in their lifetime but the symptoms can very well lay dormant. Then, the individual is weakened by an immune compromise, a traumatic experience such as a major injury, giving birth, a vaccine or even extreme emotional trauma such as divorce or death. These traumas affect the HPA axis, the effects varing dependent upon the patient.(9)
The HPA axis is where experts have argued there is a genetic link to FMS. However, with infections, it may be less genetic and more do to an outside influence changes gene expression (also seen in cancerous cells).
All this means that Chronic Lyme disease can affect the Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis in two ways: via neurotoxins and epigenetic shifts.
So, imbalances in the HPA axis can lead to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, depression, insomnia and generalized pain. All of this is related to fibromyalgia – suggesting a strong link from Lyme disease complex and its co-infections to FMS.
So, What do We Treat???
All this is not to say we must treat an different illness or trauma that may be the cause of fibromyalgia.
We must still treat the Fibromyalgia!
However, we must be aware that:
1. Fibromyalgia may be mistaken for an illness causing the symptoms, and we must treat the real illness.
2. The Fibromyalgia is real and we must treat it with Bio-Fibrin – but also be aware there may be a co-infection we have to treat also.
Either way, we are able to bring relief to pain
– as the rest of our articles will show! –
1. Brian A. Fallon, M.D. The Neuropsychiatric Manifestations of Lyme Borreliosis, College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, Psychiatric Quarterly, Vol63, No 1, Spring 1992.
2. Donta ST: Reactivation of latent Lyme Disease. X Annual LDF
International Conference on Lyme Borreliosis, National Institutes of Health, April 1997.
3. Bujak DI, Weinstein A, Dornbush RL. Clinical and neurocognitive features of the post Lyme syndrome. Department of Medicine, New York Medical College, Valhalla 10595, USA. J Rheumatol. 1996 Aug;23(8):1392-7.
4. Melissa Kaplan, Chronic Neuroimmune Diseases, Information on CFS, FM, MCS, Lyme Disease, Thyroid, and more… updated January 13, 2013, Master Symptom List for CFS, FMS, CMP & Lyme Disease, Part 1. The Carousel Network, May/June 2003.
5. Hines, Steve; Spiro Stat Technologies, Newsletter, Vol.2, #2, September, 2011.
6. Bujak DI, Weinstein A, Dornbush RL. Clinical and neurocognitive features of the post Lyme syndrome. Department of Medicine, New York Medical College, Valhalla 10595, USA. J Rheumatol. 1996 Aug;23(8):1392-7.
7. Dinerman H, Steere AC. Lyme disease associated with fibromyalgia. Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts. Ann Intern Med. 1992 Aug 15;117(4):281-5.
8. Dinerman H, Steere AC. Lyme disease associated with fibromyalgia. Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts. Ann Intern Med. 1992 Aug 15;117(4):281-5.
9. Tsigos C, Chrousos GP. Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, neuroendocrine factors and stress. J Psychosom Res. 2002 Oct;53(4):865-71.