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PMR and Lyme disease?

Does anyone have any information on the connection between PMR and Lyme disease? It seems to be a suspected cause especially in America, I live in Africa and have had the local version, Tick Bite Fever. My Rheumy ruled out Tick Bite Fever as a cause but then said he didn't know what caused PMR!

Is Tick Bite Fever common in the UK and has anyone in the group had it?

4 Replies

I don't think there is a connection as currently there is no known cause or cure for PMR but Lyme Disease has a definite cause.

However, to a certain extent the symptoms are the same so a medic mistaking one for the other is quite common. I never had it in spite of living in a UK hotspot for ticks for most of my life, but it is known enough that I had information given me a very long time ago on how to act if a tick bite was found.

I don't know what the prevalence of tick bites might be in Africa? I would have thought quite high. Have you been prescribed steroids and if you have, what was the immediate result?

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Hi there. Polkadot is right - there is no evidence of a connection between PMR and Lyme disease. It is one of those ideas that has gained some currency among people with PMR, but we have put this to our Medical Advisory Panel and they say that looking for the 'cause' of PMR here is looking up a blind alley. One of the key reasons for this is that, in the UK at least (can't speak for other countries), PMR is a good deal more common than Lyme disease. Also, Lyme can strike people of any age (ticks are no respecter of age). PMR is also almost unheard of among people of black African ethnicity, or Asian ethnicity. So a tick bite connection would still not explain why older caucasian people get PMR. My personal take on this is to understand that PMR is caused by a disorder of the immune system, which itself can have a whole range of causes, including, but not exclusively, a genetic predisposition. Many people want to find out what 'caused' their illness, but in my case I found peace when I stopped worrying about what caused it and started to accept and forgive myself for being ill. For me that was the first step in healing my immune system.

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I would guess that the only connection is the similarity of symptoms. Some years ago someone posted on another forum seeking answers for his wife who was becoming more and more immobile and in pain but had failed to get a diagnosis in spite of numerous tests. It just so happened that I had recently read of someone's experience with confusion between PMR and Lyme Disease. I passed the information on to him, they pushed for the necessary blood test (it had been refused earlier!) and Lyme's was confirmed. The lady was treated with high dose antibiotics and a short course of steroids and recovered. Meanwhile as far as PMR is concerned, we live in hope of one day finding both cause and cure.


Thank you very much for the replies. From what you say I think it is unlikely that I have Lyme's disease despite having had Tick Bite Fever ( a long time ago ) I have had classic PMR symptoms which responded to steroids immediately. I have found out that getting a blood test for Tick Bite Fever is inexpensive and easy to have done here so I might just get one done to rule it out completely.


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