Chronic Lyme Disease: What You Need to Know About the Disease and Applying for Social Security Disability

Chronic Lyme disease, also known as Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome (PTLDS) occurs in approximately 10 to 20 percent of those treated for Lyme disease. These sufferers have been through the two to four week course of antibiotics, yet remain symptomatic, suffering from some or all of the following:

  • Fatigue
  • Pain
  • Muscle aches
  • Joint aches

These symptoms can last six months or more and can be bad enough to prohibit the person from going about their daily lives, including working the way they used to.

What Causes PTLDS?

The cause of PTLDS has yet to be discovered. One theory is that for some, the ongoing symptoms are due to damage caused by the infection to the tissues and immune system. However, recent research has found that antibiotic-resistant cells are found in those with chronic Lyme disease.

What Treatments Are There for PTLDS?

Long-term antibiotics used to be prescribed for those with chronic Lyme disease but studies have proven that this treatment isn’t any better than that of a placebo. In fact, long-term antibiotic treatments of Lyme disease have been shown to cause serious complications.

While there have been hopeful studies on new treatments for chronic Lyme disease, for now most patients must simply wait until they feel completely better—the wait-and-hope approach. These patients are often treated the same way patients with fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome are treated—treating the symptoms, not the underlying cause of the symptoms.

What to do If You Have Chronic Lyme Disease

First and foremost, keep in contact with your doctor and ensure that you are both tracking your symptoms. Accurate, detailed records are important to both your health and, should you choose to pursue it, your disability claim or rebuttal.

Many people with chronic Lyme disease begin to feel isolated and misunderstood. Even friends and family begin to doubt their symptoms. To feel less alone, it’s a good idea to join a forum specific to your condition. There are many of these, varying in involvement and focus. A quick Google search will reveal many but here are a few to check out:

Of course, these boards will never take the place of your doctor’s advice and guidance. They are a place to read other stories like yours and to feel less alone in your fight with this serious condition.

If you are considering applying for SSDI for your chronic Lyme disease in New England, please contact one of our experienced attorneys today. Located in Framingham, Massachusetts, we can help you fight for your claim, even if you’ve been denied.

John L. Keefe
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Founding Attorney, Massachusetts Social Security Disability Lawyer