People with Lyme feel different types and intensities of pain. Some don’t have much pain at all.
Common types of pain felt by people with Lyme are nerve, bone, joint, and muscle pain and headaches.
There are a few main causes of pain from Lyme:
Lyme spirochetes destroy connective tissues, joints, and cartilage. They secrete enzymes to dissolve tissue, which creates a path for them to eat it. The response to this tissue damage and to the immune response causes inflammation which causes pain.
Lyme also triggers the release of quinolinic acid. Quinolinic acid is an overstimulating, highly inflammatory brain hormone that causes anxiety and pain.
The nervous system is made of numerous fibers. These fibers transmit different types of information from the body to the brain. An additional problem with people with Lyme disease is that the fibers that transmit pain are over excited by Lyme. This means that the bacteria themselves are helping the body transmit a message of pain to the brain.
Let’s discuss some ways to manage your pain
A healthy diet is one way to reduce pain. Lots of anti-inflammatory food will help calm down an irritated body. Foods high in antioxidants should also be added. Getting foods rich in collagen is really important for people with Lyme as collagen that has been destroyed by Lyme spirochetes needs to be replaced.
Hydrotherapy (hot/cold therapy)
Hot/cold contrast therapy or hydrotherapy is an easy, cheap, and effective way to manage pain. This can easily be done in the shower for full-body effects. By rotating hot and cold water, your blood vessels are dilated then constricted, moving blood and lymph throughout the body and deeper into tissues which aids in healing. Moving your lymphatic fluid has the additional benefit of helping with detoxification and supporting the immune system.
How to do it:
At the end of your shower, spend a few minutes rotating hot and cold water. Ideally, you’ll get the water as hot and as cold as you can stand.
- Spend 2 minutes under hot water
- Then 1 minute under cold water
- Repeat 3 times
(Warning: this type of therapy can cause some lightheadedness. For people with blood flow issues and/or POTS, use caution when trying contrast therapy)
Meditation is really effective for pain. Meditation is known to lower inflammation and calm the brain, including parts of the brain that manage pain.
Epsom salt baths are another great tool for minimizing pain. Epsom salts contain magnesium which can help with muscle and joint pain. Be sure to get pure Epsom salts as many contain fragrances that are toxic.
Natural anti-inflammatories like Itis that I created for Return Healthy are also effective in reducing pain so that you can be more comfortable while you are healing.