DEAR DR. ROACH: What is known about arthritis later in life for someone who had early treatment for Lyme disease? I had it as a teenager in the late 1980s and was told by my doctor that arthritis could be an issue later. I was treated with an IV antibiotic, which I believe was the go-to treatment at the time. -- J.A.
ANSWER: Lyme disease, a bacterial infection transmitted by the deer tick, causes arthritis in about half of people with untreated Lyme disease. Among those who are recognized and treated early, joint and muscle pains are common, but inflammation of the joints, along with the possibility of joint damage, is unusual. So, if you were recognized and treated early, the likelihood of developing any joint problems should be no different from your risk if you had never had Lyme disease.