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Can Lyme Disease Cause Bursitis?

What Is Bursitis?

Bursitis is the inflammation of a bursa. Bursae are fluid-filled sacs providing a cushion between a bone and a tendon or muscle, usually over joints. They help prevent friction by facilitating movement.

The main symptoms of bursitis are swelling, tenderness and pain around the bursa. The swollen area may also be red and feel warm to the touch.

Although any bursa can become inflamed, bursitis typically occurs in the shoulder, elbow, knee and hip. Other commonly affected areas are the ankle, foot and Achilles tendon.


What Are the Causes of Bursitis?

The inflammation of a bursa can result from injury or repetitive movement. You’re at an increased risk of developing bursitis if you regularly participate in physical activities involving a lot of repetitive movement, such as running, which can cause bursitis of the ankle, or playing darts, which may lead to bursitis in the elbow. Spending a lot of time kneeling can make you more likely to develop bursitis in your knee.

Some medical conditions can also cause bursae to be inflamed. These include rheumatoid arthritis and gout.

Bursitis can also occur as a result of an infection, if bacteria find their way into a bursa. A healthy immune system usually prevents this from happening, so this type of bursitis tends to affect people whose immune function is reduced because of an illness or some medications. Alcoholism, diabetes and some kidney conditions can also put you at an increased risk.

Taking certain precautions can help you avoid some of the causes of bursitis. If you have to kneel a lot, it’s a good idea to wear knee pads. Warming up properly before exercise can also lessen your risk of developing bursitis.


The knee is one of the joints most commonly affected by bursitis.


What Is Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, which is transmitted through the bites of some ticks. The first Lyme disease symptoms are usually mild and flu-like and may be hardly noticeable in people with robust immune systems.

The most distinctive sign of Lyme disease is a circular, red bull’s-eye rash that typically appears at the site of the tick bite three to 30 days after infection has occurred. However, the rash can also appear elsewhere on the body, and it’s entirely absent in approximately 20–30% of patients.

Other Lyme disease symptoms and signs include fatigue, fever, dizziness, headache, sensitivity to light, changes in vision, and joint pain, swelling or stiffness. If the infection is left untreated, more serious neurological, cognitive and heart symptoms may develop months or years later, such as memory loss, difficulty concentrating, cognitive decline, progressive dementia, sleep disturbances, facial paralysis, and pain and numbness in the limbs.

This condition can be difficult to diagnose because Lyme disease symptoms overlap with a variety of illnesses. Although laboratory tests are available, false negative results are very common, especially within the first few weeks after the infecting tick bite. Therefore, the disease is usually diagnosed by taking a range of factors into account, such as the patient’s history of possible exposure to infected ticks, in addition to any physical signs and symptoms.

If diagnosed early enough, Lyme disease can normally be successfully treated with oral antibiotics. Ensuring complete recovery can become more challenging as the illness progresses and the bacteria spread throughout the body.


Can Lyme Disease Cause Bursitis?

Intermittent joint pain, swelling and stiffness can be early symptoms of Lyme disease. The affected joints may be inflamed and feel warm, and their range of motion may be limited. The pain may alternate between different joints.

Infection with Borrelia burgdorferi can also lead to bursitis. It’s common for the larger joints to be involved.

Two-thirds of patients experience joint pain within six months of the infecting tick bite, and 80% of those with untreated Lyme disease develop joint and muscle symptoms at some point. If the illness remains undiagnosed and is allowed to progress, it can cause occasional episodes of arthritis later on.


As well as joint pain, fatigue is one of the more common Lyme disease symptoms.


How Is Bursitis Treated?

Most cases of bursitis can be successfully treated at home. Rest the joint while keeping it elevated to the level of your heart as much as possible, and above all, avoid activities that would put pressure on it! Gently holding an ice pack on the swollen area for 10 minutes several times a day will reduce the inflammation.