It's not Just Growing Pains: A Guide to Childhood Muscle, Bone, and Joint Pain, Rheumatic Diseases, and the Latest Treatments

By Thomas J. A. Lehman | Go to book overview

10
Lyme Disease

Frankie was a delightful twelve-year-old who loved to play sports. Half-
way through football season, he began to complain of knee pains. When
his symptoms didn’t improve, he was taken to his pediatrician. At first
the pediatrician thought Frankie simply “twisted it.” When Frankie was
unable to continue football because the knee was swollen and painful,
he was referred to an orthopedist. Three months later Frankie continued
to have pain in the knee that prevented him from playing sports. With
activity the knee often became swollen but would improve over a week
to ten days. He was sent to me to treat his “JRA.” The father was sure he
had been tested for Lyme disease, but careful review of the records
revealed that the test had never been done. The orthopedist was sure
the pediatrician had checked, and the pediatrician was sure the ortho-
pedist had. When I did the Lyme test, it was strongly positive and Frankie
improved dramatically when we treated him with antibiotics.

Samuel was a five-year-old from an area where Lyme disease was quite common. Although he had played happily outdoors all summer, he seemed to be dragging in the fall. When he began to complain of pain, his mother took him to the pediatrician. The blood tests were negative for Lyme, but the erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) was moderately elevated. Since Lyme was common in the area where Sam lived, the pediatrician simply treated him for Lyme despite the negative test. When Sam didn’t get better with the oral antibiotics, he got intravenous antibiotics for two more months. He still didn’t seem better. Finally, Sam was sent to me for treatment of his difficult Lyme disease. X rays revealed that Sam had a large tumor in his pelvis, necessitating surgery, radiation, and extensive chemotherapy. Sam was left with permanent bone damage after the surgery. He never had Lyme. Had the tumor been found sooner, he might have done better.

-140-

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