The neck consists of bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments, each with a purpose to support the head. They aid in providing flexibility to head movements. Pain may appear if any parts of the neck are damaged in some way.
Most adults have experienced neck pain. Research shows neck pain is ranked fourth in causes of disability, with 10% to 20% of the population experiencing neck pain. Unfortunately, only one in five people with neck pain seek medical treatment.
Some may wake up with a sore neck like they slept in the wrong position. Others extend the neck muscles through exercise or physical activity. Some spend most of their day dealing with daily stressors without realizing their neck muscles are in a constant state of tension.
Another cause of neck pain is Lyme disease.
Lyme Disease Neck Pain Explained
Lyme disease occurs when a person is infected with the Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium transmitted from the black-legged tick. The bacteria enter your bloodstream, which multiplies and spreads throughout the body. The bacteria, or spirochetes, trigger the immune system, which activates inflammation to find and destroy the spirochetes.
The body’s immune system is often strong enough to complete its job successfully. However, Lyme bacteria have several ways of avoiding detection, including creating biofilms, hiding in cell walls, and going dormant. The immune system doesn’t stop searching, and inflammation persists, leading to pain.
Inflammation is the primary reason for symptoms associated with Lyme disease neck pain. Lyme spirochetes can travel to the neck and infiltrate the discs, ligaments, tendons, muscles, and nerves. These areas become inflamed, leading to varying pain levels, from mild tenderness to excruciating stiffness.
Symptoms of Lyme Disease Neck Pain
You may find yourself rubbing your neck, trying to loosen the muscles around it, or tilting your head from one side to the other to stretch the muscles. With each movement, you may feel sharp shooting pains that travel down your shoulders and arms. Other times, you may feel a dull, constant ache. These are direct symptoms of Lyme disease neck pain.
Indirect symptoms also exist. They are the pains you feel but may not associate them with the neck. For example,
- Tingling or numbness in your hands
- Arm pain
- Facial paralysis
- Face and jaw pain
- Sinus pain
Connecting these symptoms with Lyme disease is essential because the sooner you receive treatment, the better the outcomes. Other initial symptoms of Lyme disease include:
- Flu-like symptoms
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Joint aches
- Muscle pain
If left untreated, symptoms worsen and affect more of the body. You may experience anxiety, depression, and central nervous system damage.
The Truth About the Lyme Bullseye Rash
It is a myth that everyone with Lyme disease will have a bullseye rash around the tick bite. Only about 70 to 80 percent of people get a rash. Some people may get the rash and not know it, like when it appears in locations that are hard to see. The bullseye rash is not always near the spot of the bite. It doesn’t even have to look exactly like a bullseye.
You may mistake it for a less serious cause, depending on how much time passes before it appears.
Misdiagnosis of Lyme Disease Neck Pain
Most general practitioners treat symptoms versus the source of the problem, which is one reason Lyme disease is often misdiagnosed. Its symptoms mimic those of the flu and other conditions. When you see the doctor and explain your symptoms, they consider the information you give them to develop a diagnosis.
The more information you can provide, such as being outdoors in areas with ticks or finding a tick on your body, will help you get a more accurate diagnosis. Documenting your symptoms, especially what happened in the week or weeks before your symptoms, helps doctors connect to potential sources.
Differential Diagnoses for Lyme Disease Neck Pain
If you are having neck pain, seek medical care. Your doctor may ask you questions regarding activities that may cause neck pain. They may be trying to figure out if you have one of the following differential diagnoses:
- Minor sprain or strain caused by sleep position, posture, injury, accident, or tension.
- Whiplash due to sudden forward and backward jerking of the neck.
- Arthritis is triggered by sitting for long periods, cold temperatures, or unusual neck movements.
- Meningitis or brain and spinal cord inflammation due to an infection.
Arthritis and meningitis are chronic symptoms of untreated Lyme disease. Both are severe and can cause debilitating pain, interfering with how you function daily.
How to Manage Lyme Disease Neck Pain
Doctors may instruct you to apply an ice pack to the neck to reduce inflammation. Doing so may even numb the pain, but this is only temporary. The pain will return soon after you stop the therapy. The same is true for applying heat packs, taking ibuprofen, stretching, massage, and stress management.
If you suspect you have Lyme disease neck pain, seek treatment from a Lyme-literate doctor. They specialize in rare and infectious diseases and have advanced knowledge and experience treating Lyme disease with the latest, most effective therapies.
There are many things a Lyme-literate doctor can do that your family doctor cannot do to help you manage Lyme disease neck pain, including:
- Analyzing blood samples under a microscope to confirm if Lyme bacteria exist and ensure an accurate diagnosis.
- Collaborate with leading laboratories to confirm diagnosis.
- Utilize modern technology and equipment to perform treatments in their clinic, such as:
- Therapeutic apheresis or exchanging infected blood with healthy, donated blood.
- Hyperthermia for boosting the immune system.
- Biofilm eradication for breaking down the shields that protect Lyme spirochetes.
- Intravenous antibiotics to eliminate bacterial infection.
- Intravenous vitamin therapies for boosting the immune response.
- Detox and lifestyle changes to improve results and prevent symptom relapse.
If you have questions about your neck pain, don’t wait until it gets worse to seek answers. Call now to learn more about your symptoms.
A great example of a treatment clinic outside the United States, Canada, and the UK is the Lyme Mexico Clinic. Call them to find out how you can benefit from their services.