Aching muscles from time to time is usually no big deal, especially if you’ve just started a new exercise or training program or are fighting off a virus. Now, if you start getting chronic muscle aches that just won’t go away, it may be time to investigate further. We all experience aching muscles at various stages of our lives, just a part of getting older; however, it might surprise you to learn that it could be due to Lyme disease.
A cluster of symptoms surround a Lyme diagnosis, including fatigue, headaches, dizziness, light and sound sensitivity, memory and concentration problems, a stiff neck, tingling, and joint and muscle pain. These are just some of the symptoms of Lyme disease, but they could wreak havoc on your health and in your life. It is integral to get a doctor’s opinion, especially if those symptoms become chronic.
Continue reading to learn more about how your aching muscles could be a side effect of Lyme disease and how you can achieve relief.
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Cause of Muscle Aches
There is a plethora of reasons why your muscles ache, so finding the underlying cause of it should be your first step. A good idea is to monitor how often they ache, how long they ache, triggers, and whether the pain moves around your body. These are key clues to understanding the cause. Muscle aches that come on after an injury will subside once the injury has healed. Exercise-induced aching muscles is common in the beginning of a program and should then taper off. If there is a disease process going on, you will have other symptoms that will help to pinpoint just what disease you may be dealing with. Other reasons for aching muscles include:
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Myofascial pain syndrome
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)
- Coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19)
- Muscle cramp (restless leg syndrome, cardiovascular exercise)
- Rocky Mountain spotted fever
- Influenza (flu)
- Lyme disease
Lyme disease carries with it aching muscles that may have no other cause, but so does other illness and disease, so getting the correct diagnosis is crucial.
Why Does Lyme Disease Cause Aching Muscles?
Understanding about Lyme disease means more than just learning the signs and symptoms, it means delving into tick bites and what types of infections or diseases they carry and how they can make us hurt. This may take some sleuthing with a medical provider that includes blood tests and an examination, looking for the tell-tale sign of Lyme: the bullseye rash. However, upwards of 50% of individuals don’t experience the usual rash and therefore may never know they were bit by a tick.
For example, remember when you had the flu virus, you ached all over. There were other symptoms you experienced as a result, but since you’ve had the flu before, you knew what to look for. You just wanted a pain pill and to sleep, right? Having Lyme is not something you figure out immediately, unless you know when you were a bit and then shortly after started feeling sick. It usually takes weeks and sometimes even months to get the proper diagnosis.
Knowing why your muscles ache when having Lyme will help you understand just where the immune system fits into all this. Be aware that the immune system is always on the lookout for invaders. It is designed to target those invaders and then create ways to rid your body of them, to protect you. When your immune system kicks into gear, it sets off a histamine reaction, which can include several symptoms that may make you wonder if they are a by-product of the virus itself or a reaction to the immune system doing its job. It is actually both. Think of your immune system and a virus or infection in a battle. The virus invades your body, and the immune system goes on high alert, doing what it does best: releasing red blood cells to fight the invader.
When your immune system is working properly, it can cause the muscles to ache from the histamine release, thus why you feel like a mac truck ran you over. Also, if you’re taking medication for Lyme, it can cause an intensified reaction, due to Lyme bacteria being killed off. This is called a Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction. This can cause a whole host of symptoms, such as fatigue, chills, and muscle aches and pains. Also, the disease itself causes musculoskeletal involvement, especially arthritis—a common feature of Lyme disease. In the initial stages of the disease, you may experience pain in joints, tendons, and muscles that tend to migrate, going from one muscle to another. It usually only lasts a few hours or days in one location, before moving to another location.
In advance Lyme, there is a marked cellular and humoral immune response that starts to involve the large joints, particularly the knee, for several years. Once identified, the arthritis can be treated using a one-month course of antibiotics.
Get Relief from Aching Muscles
Once a Lyme diagnosis has been reached, you can get muscle ache relief from a variety of sources. It is best to discuss the following with your doctor to ensure you get the proper treatment for your case.
- NSAIDS (Ibuprofen, Aleve, Aspirin) Anti-inflammatory drugs help to reduce aches and pain due to Lyme. Combining Tylenol and an NSAIDs can produce a greater effect.
- Antibiotics—as stated above, if the muscle aches are from an exaggerated immune response, a course of doxycycline or amoxicillin will usually reduce the pain.
- Pain-relieving cream, such as Icy/Hot, Tiger Balm, or pain patches that have medicine infused within it.
- CBD oil—Cannabis oil has shown great promise in helping with pain. You can get relief in the oil itself or in a cream.
- Alternating between hot and cold—much like how Icy/Hot brings relief, using ice packs for 20 minutes and then switching to warmth helps with blood circulation and increased oxygenation.
- A hot bath with 2 cups of Epsom salts sprinkled in also helps since magnesium is a natural muscle relaxant.
- Holistic medicine can also help, which may include acupuncture, acupressure, meditation, and massage.
- Prescription drugs can also help, as well as low doses of antidepressants, including tricyclics, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin and norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors, (SNRIs) combined reuptake inhibitors and receptor blockers, and monoamine oxidase inhibitors. (MAO inhibitors)
- Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) is used commonly as a non-invasive treatment for pain and targets muscle aches through both peripheral and central mechanisms.
- Exercise—it may seem counterproductive to use muscles that ache, but it may be the best idea. The reason being is because exercise releases endorphins, the feel-good hormones, so it will help decrease the pain. Exercise also strengthens muscle tissue, which may help lessen the pain as well.
- Meditation or progressive muscle relaxation can be an incredibly powerful way to reduce painful muscle aches. Even when done for ten minutes a day, meditation can help you focus on your breathing, which helps reduce tension. Muscle relaxation teaches you to tense and relax your muscles, so you get deep relief.
Contact Premier Health and Holistic Medicine for Help
Aching muscles can affect your life and reduce the joy of living, but there is help and hope for your suffering. If you need medical help with the symptoms of Lyme disease that include aching muscles, please contact Premier Health and get a consultation with Dr. Ridinger today. She works with Lyme patients, offering treatment that works best for them. This may include diet changes, supplements, sleep pattern changes, exercise, antioxidant therapies, hormones, and more.
With more than 25 years of experience as a holistic doctor and specializing in difficult illnesses that includes Lyme disease, you can count on her expertise and compassion in finding the right treatment for you or a loved one.
Find relief for your aching muscles here.