Symptoms of Lyme Disease
After several months, approximately 60 percent of people with an untreated Lyme disease infection will begin to have intermittent bouts of arthritis, with severe joint pain and swelling. Large joints are most often affected, particularly the knees.
In addition, up to 5 percent of untreated people may develop chronic neurological (nervous system) problems within months to years after infection. These include shooting pains, numbness or tingling in the hands or feet, and problems with concentration and short-term memory.
Most cases of Lyme disease can be cured with antibiotics, especially if treatment is begun early in the course of the illness. However, a small percentage of people with Lyme disease have symptoms that still continue months to years after treatment with antibiotics. These symptoms can include:
- Muscle and joint pains
- Arthritis (see Infectious Arthritis)
- Cognitive defects (problems with the ability to think)
- Sleep disturbance
The cause of these symptoms is not known. There is some evidence that they result from an autoimmune response, in which a person's immune system continues to respond even after the infection has been cleared from the body.