It’s Time to Recognize Lyme (Part II)

By Riva Preil

After several months, the disease progresses to the third stage, late disseminated phase, if untreated.  By this point, the disease has spread throughout the body and to multiple organs which severely impairs one’s ability to function.  The joint pain intensifies and the neurological symptoms and pain (called Bannwarth syndrome) worsen. Permanent paresis may be present in the most severe cases.  Cognitive changes such as short term memory loss and concentration difficulty may be present due to Lyme encephalopathy. Furthermore, personality changes, psychosis, anxiety, panic attacks, and depersonalization (a feeling of detachment from oneself) may occur.

Considering the horrible progression of the disease just described, it is important to be mindful of prevention and treatment tips, especially if you engage in activities that put you at greater risk of exposure to infected ticks.  First of all, the more covered you are, the more protected you are!  Tick bites can’t penetrate through one’s clothing, so be sure to wear clothing which minimizes skin exposure while camping to decrease risk of being bitten.  In addition, it is important to inspect your body after hikes and camping trips, especially because tick bites, which are not necessarily painful, may go unnoticed by a bitten individual.  If you notice a bite, especially if it develops into the bull’s-eye rash described above, speak with your primary care physician and request that you be screened for Lyme disease.  Early detection means faster recovery via antibiotic treatment.  It will prevent the disease from progressing to later, more debilitating stages which often involve lengthy and expensive intravenous antibiotic treatment regiments.  Please refer here for more information and useful tips.  Also, for more information about Lyme disease, please watch Under Our Skin, a documentary (available on Netflix, poster above) from director Andy Abraham Wilson.


Whatever the Weather…

By Riva Preil

Is totally going to be hot? Cold? Sunny? Stormy? Great question- these days, who knows! Considering the recent weather fluctuations, now is a good time to review the physiologic effects of hot temperature extremes on our bodies.

Moist hot packs and cold packs are two of the most commonly utilized modalities by physical therapists to treat pain. Heat is often used to treat chronic pain as well as muscle stiffness and discomfort. Heat is a vasodilator (expands blood vessels to allow for improved circulation), and this brings oxygen and nutrients to the cells. In addition, increased blood flow allows toxic waste products and carbon dioxide to be removed from the cells. The recommended temperature for optimal most heat treatment is 104-113 degrees Fahrenheit for five to thirty minutes. However, heat should not be used over sprained or strained ankles or on body parts with decreased sensation for fear of inadvertent burning.

Cryotherapy (cold therapy) is the other common modality often used for pain relief, especially for acute injuries. Cold has the opposite effect of heat- it is a vasoconstrictor (creates narrowing of blood vessels thereby decreasing the local blood flow). Cold decreases edema (swelling), pain, and inflammation, and it should be applied indirectly to the skin for less than fifteen minutes. The order of sensation when using cold are as follows: Cold, burning, aching, numb- so even if the initial cold, burn, and ache feel uncomfortable, the desired eventual numbness is worth the wait!  The effects of cold therapy are longer lasting than heat therapy.