Lyme disease is known for its capacity to wreak havoc on the entire body, especially if it isn’t treated early. This is because the borrelia bacteria has a particular way of setting up shop deep within the body’s and evading immune cells and antibiotic treatment. In some cases, treating Lyme disease early can lead to a full recovery. In others, even people who have treated their Lyme disease can end up with what is known as post-treatment Lyme disease syndrome. If the infection is left untreated for too long, irreparable damage can be done within the body.
While symptoms such as brain fog and fatigue are commonly associated with Lyme disease, the condition can also affect many other aspects of the body such as the nervous system, the cardiovascular system, and the musculoskeletal system. When the musculoskeletal system is attacked, for example, it can lead to pain and inflammation in the joints, tendons, bones, and muscles. So can Lyme disease cause trigger points as well? Read on to learn more.
What are common trigger points?
Trigger points, also called myofascial trigger points, are typically located within taut bands of the skeletal muscle that can be hyperirritable, leading to pain in the area. In many cases, trigger points are associated with certain musculoskeletal disorders; however, they can also be brought on by overusing muscles, sustaining injuries, or even by emotional or psychological stress.
In many cases, simply repeating certain activities can cause trigger points to develop, such as sitting at a computer for too long or lifting heavy objects continuously over an extended period. Determining what causes trigger points is difficult, however, because there is no single reason that they develop.
Trigger points can occur anywhere in the muscle; however, there are areas on the body that they are most likely to develop, including:
- The upper trapezius muscles, located just above the shoulders on either side of the neck
- The quadratus lumborum muscles, found in the lower back
- The hamstrings muscles, located in the back of the upper legs
- The calf muscles
- Along the iliotibial band, a thick tissue that runs vertically on the outside of the thigh
Touching or massaging trigger points can cause pain to develop in the area, as well as in other parts of the body. Range of motion can also be affected by trigger points.
Can Lyme disease affect your muscles?
One of the most common symptoms associated with Lyme disease is muscle soreness. This symptom can appear early in the infection and often mimics the same type of soreness you may experience if you have the flu. However, muscle soreness isn’t the only effect Lyme disease may have on the musculoskeletal system. All the muscles in the body can be affected by the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, from the head down to the feet.
As we mentioned, early signs of Lyme disease are associated with muscle soreness; however, as the disease progresses, patients can develop an issue with the muscles in their face, known as Bell’s palsy. Bell’s palsy is characterized as a weakness or drooping of the facial muscles and is one of the trademark symptoms of late-stage Lyme disease.
The connection between Lyme disease and trigger points
Research has studied the presence of myofascial trigger points in people with Lyme disease as a way to diagnose various types of trigger points and connect them to various disorders. This research has found a connection between Lyme disease and trigger points.
This is because Lyme disease can severely affect the health of the muscles. While not everyone with Lyme disease will develop trigger points, there is an increased risk. It is unlikely that these trigger points will develop in the initial stages of the disease, but it is thought that those who fail to undergo treatment quickly increase the risk of developing trigger points in their affected muscles.
While the research surrounding Lyme disease and trigger points is scarce, there is some evidence to support a correlation between the two. However, there is not enough substantial evidence to clearly identify any mitigating risk factors or determine how often people with musculoskeletal symptoms of Lyme disease will develop trigger points.
In order to decrease the risk of trigger points from developing if a person has Lyme disease, the main focus should be on properly treating the condition to stop it spreading to various areas within the body such as the musculoskeletal system.
Featured image by Sasun Bughdaryan on Unsplash