What are the neurological complications of lyme disease?

Lyme disease is caused by a bacterial infection trasmitted by a tick bite.  It primarily occurs in the northeastern (Maine, Vermont, Connecticut) and midwestern (Wisconsin and Minnesota) parts of the United States; cases have also been reported in California. 
It typically causes a painless rash followed by flu like symptoms.  It can progress to effect the skin, joints, heart and in 10-15 % of cases, the nervous system.  The neurological comlpications of Lyme disease include:

1.  meningitis:  headache, fever and neck pain

2.  cranial neuritis:  pain and weakness in the one or several of the nerves which supply the muscles of the face, eyes, and tongue

3.  painful radiculitis:  mimicks the symptoms of a "pinched nerve" in the neck or low back and so causes painful shooting pains in an arm or leg

4.  neuropathy:  pain and numbness in the feet and hands

5.  encephalitis (inflammation or infection of the brain):  headache, fever, confusion and seizures

6.  myelitis (inflammation or infection of the spinal cord):  numbness and weakness in the legs and loss of bowel or bladder control   

Lyme disease is caused by a bacterial organism transmitted to humans via the bite of an infected tick. Most people bitten by an infected tick develop a characteristic skin rash around the area of the bite. The rash may feel hot to the touch, and vary in size, shape, and color, but it will often have a "bull's eye" appearance (a red ring with a clear center). However, some people do not develop the rash, which makes Lyme disease hard to diagnose because its symptoms and signs mimic those of many other diseases.

The first stage of Lyme disease begins seven to 10 days following an infected tick's bite with flu-like symptoms, such as fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, headaches, fatigue, muscle aches, and joint pain.

Neurological complications most often occur in the second stage of Lyme disease, with numbness, pain, weakness, Bell's palsy (paralysis of the facial muscles), visual disturbances, and meningitis symptoms, such as fever, stiff neck, and severe headache. Other problems, which may not appear until weeks, months, or years after a tick bite, include decreased concentration, irritability, memory and sleep disorders, and nerve damage in the arms and legs.

This answer is based on source information from National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.