Stem Cells May Help Patients With Post-treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome

Many Americans know that Lyme disease is transmitted by ticks. Symptoms include a skin rash, headaches, fever, joint pain and fatigue. Days or weeks after the bite, a red rash called erythema migrans (EM) often appears and spreads on the skin, sometimes presenting as a raised or flat bull’s eye pattern. The disease can progress undiagnosed for a long time because not all patients develop a rash, and many are unaware of ever having been bitten by a tick. When the disease is suspected, blood tests can be helpful in making the diagnosis, and a course of oral antibiotics is usually sufficient treatment for the disease.

Chronic Lyme Disease

When the disease goes undiagnosed for a long period, some patients find that symptoms persist even after the infection has been treated with antibiotics. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) defines this condition as Post-treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome (PTLDS), and is experienced by approximately 10–20% of patients. Ongoing symptoms such as, arthritis, thinking problems, and nerve damage can continue for six years or more.

Treatment Options

There has been significant controversy about the treatment of PTLDS, largely because of the risks associated with the prolonged use of antibiotics. Antibiotics, when taken for an extended period of time, can have negative impacts on patient health and promote the proliferation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Stem cell treatment offers an alternative course of action without the negative side effects associated with prolonged use of antibiotics. For PTLDS patients, Stem Cell is a safe means of treatment if symptoms persist after the recommended course of antibiotics.

How It Works

Stem cell treatment once required harvesting bone marrow, which involves many steps over a process of several days. A breakthrough discovery, however, found active stem cells in the fatty, adipose tissue of patients at all ages. Now with a local anesthesia, a minimally invasive liposuction procedure can remove some of this adipose tissue in 20 minutes. Millions of viable cells are then extracted from the tissue and injected into the body where needed to encourage regeneration and healing. This whole process takes three hours or less, whereas the alternative bone marrow method requires days of cultures and processing.

Dangers of Lyme Disease

Stem cell treatment is not intended as a standalone treatment for Lyme disease. When patients find that symptoms persist after the course of antibiotics, they should firstly consult their physician to ensure that other illnesses are not being overlooked. The malaise and other symptoms patients experience with Lyme disease can also be associated with other illnesses. Several findings suggest that the long-term effects Lyme disease may have consequences on the body, one of which is that the body may develop an autoimmune reaction to the infecting organism. Because so little is understood about PTLDS, stem cell therapy needs to be considered among the sound treatment options, albeit experimental, since it remains a very low-risk procedure, with little downside, that may help the body repair damage caused by Lyme disease.

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