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Forum Name: Neurology Topics

Question: Lyme Disease Symptoms?


 hmopal - Fri Nov 14, 2008 10:48 pm

I don't know if I should be asking these questions to a neurologist or an oncologist, and I'm hoping for some direction. I plan on seeing a doctor, but I want to minimize my medical bills and would like to go to the right specialist to begin with. I have concerns of having lymphoma, because I have been experiencing pain in my left arm pit for about a year and a half now. It has gotten to the point where I can feel the pain constantly. It is not an overwhelming pain, but rather a dull pain that sometimes gets worse and even makes my left arm numb at times. Twice in the year in a half, I've even had concerns of a heart attack because of how intense the pain has gotten. But for the most part it is just a background type of pain that I don't pay much attention to until it periodically gets worse. I've thought that maybe this is tied to my lymph nodes under my arm, but it only affects my left arm pit. I haven’t noticed any hard knots in my arm pit, but it is hard to tell since it is such a soft tissue area. The other thing that maybe supports the fact that this is an issue with my lymph nodes is that about 8 years ago I had a knot behind my left ear that did not go away. The doctor was going to cut it out, but I did not have medical insurance at the time and procrastinated on the procedure. It finally went away on its own after about 7 months. ( I don't know if that is relevant or not)

However, I have been told that I may have lyme disease. This never got confirmed because the general practitioner doctor that gave me the Western Blott test told me he did not know how to read the results but he thought that they were positive.

The reason I had asked the general practitioner to give me the Western Blott was because I had gone to a neurologist for numbness in my extremities (Which I literally experienced for years). He was testing me for MS and that did not come back positive so he took some blood samples. Unfortunately I moved to a different city in the process, and he called and to tell me that he recommended that I get follow up blood tests. I didn't worry too much, because my numbness in my feet and hands were actually subsiding. But I did ask my general practitioner to give me the Western Blot test when I went in for strep throat.

I was not too concerned until about a year and a half ago when I started experiencing this pain under my arm pit. I went to the doctor again (a different general practitioner) to check this out. He pretty much told me that I was imaging it. Never the less, I demanded some tests because I knew I was not imagining the pain. I feared breast cancer because I had other minor symptoms such as vibration in my left breast and numbness to the breast. So I had him give me a mammogram. It came back fine. I also had him check my heart, because of the numbness in my left arm. ( I thought I could be having a heart attack) When these test came back fine, and he assured me that I did not have anything major, so I let it go. However I have continued to experience this pain for a year and half now, and it seems to recently been getting worse. Also, the numbness in my left hand seems to be returning.

Up to now, I have not gone back to the doctor, because I'm afraid of medical bills. (I'm still paying off the MRI I had done with the last neurologist I went to) And I'll admit, I'm a little afraid of the diagnosis. I understand the treatment is pretty much a lifetime supply of antibiotics. Could this pain I am experiencing in my arm pit be related to Lyme disease? Or am I experiencing issue of more related to my lymph nodes or even circulatory issues? I fear cancer too. I really don't know what kind of doctor to see.

Note: While my numbness in my hands and feet have subsided over the years, I still experience a tingling down my spine when I tilt my head forward, and I do still seem to have tingling in my hands and feet way too often. This is why I'm leaning towards Lyme disease but in all my research of the illness this doesn't seem to be a typical symptom of it. Could I have more than one thing happening?
 John Kenyon, CNA - Tue Dec 16, 2008 9:32 pm

User avatar Hi there -

While your symptoms are not typical for Lyme disease, the truth is there are few chronic symptoms with this disease that are especially typical. They are generally vague, often neurological, and may come and go, all of which you've described here. It would be very helpful (and important) for you to be tested again (utilizing several of the diagnostic tests and not just the Western Blott), and have someone interpret the results who actually knows how to do this. Your doctor was remiss to acknowlege not knowing how to read the Western Blott results but guess they were positive. This definitely needs to be ruled out or in so you can either be treated intensively for Lyme if you have it, or to eliminate it and some of the confusion surrounding your symptoms. If it is Lyme disease (or any one of a number of other less likely possibilities) it's not going to permanently go away on its own.

I strongly suspect Lyme disease is the culprit in this, but there are other possible diseases. Since you have an equivocal diagnosis of Lyme already in your history, this should be the first thing ruled in or out. It can be done, although it is often hard to diagnose (at least compared with more clear-cut diseases and disorders) but it gets done, and it is treatable. It might well be the simplest answer to your problem. It also may be the most obvious one. Again, those "typical" symptoms are not truly all that typical. They are, rather, classic. Many disease processes don't routinely present classically. This is unfortunate, but true.

I hope this is helpful. Please follow up with us as needed. Best of luck to you.

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