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Lyme Disease Associated with Fibromyalgia

Hal Dinerman, MD; and Allen C. Steere, MD
[+] Article and Author Information

Grant Support: In part by grant AR-20358 from the National Institutes of Health and by the Eshe Fund.

Requests for Reprints: Hal Dinerman, MD, New England Medical Center, Box 406, 750 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02111.

Current Author Addresses: Drs. Dinerman and Steere: New England Medical Center, #406 750 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02111.


©1992 American College of PhysiciansAmerican College of Physicians


Ann Intern Med. 1992;117(4):281-285. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-117-4-281
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Objective: To describe the clinical and laboratory findings as well as results of treatment in patients with Lyme disease associated with fibromyalgia. ▪Design: Observational cohort study. The mean duration of observation was 2.5 years (range, 1 to 4 years). ▪Setting: Diagnostic Lyme disease clinic in a university hospital. ▪Patients: Of 287 patients seen with Lyme disease during a 3.5-year period, 22 (8%) had fibromyalgia associated with this illness, and 15 (5%) participated in the observational study. ▪Measurements: Symptoms and signs of fibromyalgia, immunodiagnostic tests for Lyme disease, and tests of neurologic function. ▪Results: Of the 15 patients, 9 developed widespread musculoskeletal pain, tender points, dysesthesias, memory difficulties, and debilitating fatigue a mean duration of 1.7 months after early Lyme disease; the remaining six patients developed those symptoms during the course of Lyme arthritis. At the time of our evaluation, late in the course of their illness, 11 patients had positive immunoglobulin (lg) G antibody responses to Borrelia burgdorferi by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), one had a positive Western blot, and the three seronegative patients had positive cellular immune responses to borrelial antigens. Four patients had abnormal cerebrospinal fluid analyses that showed an elevated protein level, a slight pleocytosis, or intrathecal antibody production to the spirochete. The signs of Lyme disease resolved with antibiotic therapy, usually intravenous ceftriaxone, 2 g/d for 2 to 4 weeks, except in one patient with persistent knee swelling. However, 14 of the 15 patients continued to have symptoms of fibromyalgia. Currently, only one patient is completely asymptomatic. ▪Conclusions: Lyme disease may trigger fibromyalgia, but antibiotics do not seem to be effective in the treatment of the fibromyalgia.

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