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Can Lyme Disease Cause Rheumatoid Arthritis?

I have been thinking about this post for a few days all started when I ran into an old friend one day last week.  This individual told me that--after being diagnosed with Lyme disease some time ago--has been diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis.  I knew that some of the symptoms of Lyme Disease are very much like the symptoms of, can Lyme Disease cause RA?

Damage to hand and finger joints caused by Rheumatoid Arthritis
(source: Wikimedia)

After doing some research, I found out some very interesting things about the answer to my question.
According to what I believe are very reliable sources-such as the CDC, Mayo Clinic, and Cleveland Clinic here is what I can report:

  • The cause of Rheumatoid Arthritis is unknown, but it is suspected that genetic factors may predispose a person to the condition. The actual disease process may actually be triggered by a virus, bacteria, or other environmental factor.
  • The arthritic features of Lyme Disease and Rheumatoid Arthritis have some common clinical findings--such as joint pain, stiffness and and lab test findings.  Some patients have been misdiagnosed because of this issue.
  • It is possible for a person with RA to contract Lyme disease; conversely, a person who has Lyme Disease can also have RA. 
  • There is no direct evidence that Rheumatoid Arthritis is directly caused by Lyme Disease. 

Sources: CDC, Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic, Wikimedia


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