5 Neurological Complications Of Lyme Disease To Be Aware Of

Lyme disease, left untreated, may cause a number of debilitating neurological conditions that attack the body and mind.

People get Lyme disease from the bites of infected ticks. The early signs of Lyme disease are inclusive of a characteristic rash which appears around the part of the body where the bite occurred, fever, chills, headaches, muscle and joint pains, and swollen lymph nodes. Lyme disease shares symptoms with more common illnesses and as a result people that have contracted it end up using inappropriate treatments or miss getting treatment entirely. Unfortunately, when left untreated, Lyme disease can lead to severe complications. In the second stage of Lyme disease, neurological complications like numbness, severe headaches, and visual disturbances may occur. Lyme disease is associated with the following neurological complications:


A very painful radiculitis is among the first neurological complications that are experienced by people with Lyme disease. A radiating pain along the dermatome of a nerve often characterizes radiculitis. This condition generally occurs within the first few weeks to months of the infection. Patients usually experience sensory, motor and mixed symptoms and conditions like weakness and sudden reflex and sensory changes. Unfortunately, these symptoms are sometimes mistaken as indicators of nerve-impingement.

Cranial neuropathies, or head symtoms

As well as the patient’s cranial nerve, cranial neuropathies can affect the nerves involved in sensory processing, in other words sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. As Lyme disease progresses the multiple cranial nerves of can all be affected at the same time in someone infected with the disease. An estimated 50%-70% of total patients that suffer from neurological symptoms experience this complication.

Intracranial hypertension

A rare neurological complication of Lyme disease is intracranial hypertension. It is more commonly experienced by children and adolescents. Headaches and papilledema are common side effects associated with intracranial hypertension. Papilledema, the swelling of a patient’s optic disc, develops over a span of a few hours to a few weeks. In some cases, abnormalities in Cerebrospinal Fluid may also occur.

Inflammation of the brain and spinal cord

Sometimes resembling ischemic patterns, encephalomyelitis usually includes brainstem abnormalities. It can be medically proofed that the parenchyma is involved. Cerebellar syndromes, motion disorders, hemiparesis, and spastic paraparesis are all indicators of this complication. This complication is more common in European nations than in North America.


Encephalopathy is one of the most common complications that occurs in the later stages of Lyme disease. Those with this problem experience minor or even major cognitive changes and polyradiculoneuropathy. Encephalopathy as well as other late stage infections may be accompanied by severe fatigue, sleeping problems, extreme irritability, mood swings, photophobia, difficulty finding words, and problems in writing or speaking. There have been reports of sensory issues as well. The severity of these symptoms may differ and are considered to be somewhat inconsistent.

Early identification of the symptoms of Lyme disease and administration of immediate treatment are the best ways to prevent it from developing into worse neurological complications.

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