Looking for a Lyme doctor?

Lyme disease patients with a tick bite in an endemic area can exhibit an erythema migrans rash, 7th nerve palsy, heart block, meningitis, or Lyme arthritis. But, if a person lacks these early finding or develop chronic manifestations of Lyme disease or co-infections may find it difficult to find a doctor experienced in treating chronic manifestations of Lyme disease.

It can be difficult to find a Lyme doctor who treats patients who do not live in an endemic area or have a history of a tick bite.

It can also be difficult to find a doctor when a person presents with non-specific manifestations of Lyme disease, which may include:

  1. Neuropsychiatric Lyme disease [1]
  2. Pediatric neuropsychiatric disorders – PANS [2]
  3. Lyme carditis [3]
  4. Autonomic dysfunction – POTS [4]
  5. Post-treatment Lyme fatigue – Post-Lyme disease [5]
  6. Neuropathic pain [6]
  7. Persistent symptoms after Lyme disease [7]
  8. Concurrent co-infections [8]
  9. “Post-Treatment Lyme Disease Syndrome” [9]

In addition, it can be difficult to find a doctor who will treat a Lyme disease patient with a negative blood test.

Finally, it can be difficult to find a doctor who will continue to treat the disease if you fail a single 4-week course of antibiotics.

Telemedicine has taken off with the COVID-19 pandemic to help prevent spreading the virus in medical offices. [10] But with its introduction, Lyme disease patients may also benefit.

[bctt tweet=”Find a Lyme doctor using telemedicine.” username=”DrDanielCameron”]

Patients who suffer from Lyme disease symptoms have, until now, been forced to travel long distances to find specialists to treat the disease or have been left to live with ongoing, sometimes disabling, symptoms.

Telemedicine may offer the opportunity for patients, who possibly have Lyme disease, to meet virtually online with doctors who specialize in treating tick-borne diseases.

A Lyme doctor, sometimes referred to as a Lyme literate doctor, recognize that Lyme disease and other co-infections may occur even in patients who live in non-endemic regions; who don’t recall a tick bite; who do not meet the strict CDC criteria for diagnosis; who have a negative Western blot test; and who remain ill despite treatment with a single course of antibiotics.

Telemedicine examples

Hatcher-Martin and colleagues described the use of telemedicine in individuals with a concussion, mild traumatic brain injury (TBI), dementia, epilepsy, movement disorder, multiple sclerosis, and inpatient general neurology in the journal Neurology. [11]

“Telemedicine can also enable earlier access to specialized care, removed the burdens of travel, and patient satisfaction,” wrote Hatcher-Martin.

A Cochrane systematic review found telemedicine as effective as in-person visits in chronic conditions, such as diabetes and congestive heart failure. [10] In fact, the Veteran’s Administration has successfully used telemedicine for chronic disease settings such as mental health, dermatology, hypertension, and heart failure. [12]

Infectious disease (ID) specialists successfully used telemedicine for patients with pneumonia, urinary tract infection, sepsis, bacteremia, endocarditis, skin and soft tissue infections, and upper respiratory infections.

“Based on the available, albeit limited, evidence, telemedicine ID consultation seems comparable to standard of care for the clinical outcomes of mortality, length of stay, readmission, adherence, cost, and antimicrobial use,” wrote Burnham and colleagues in the journal Systematic Reviews. [13]

Author’s Note: You may find that you’re unable to receive treatment for Lyme disease if you haven’t met a number of criteria, put forth by the CDC. But with the increasing use of telemedicine, individuals who once had few options may now have an opportunity to have consultations with a Lyme doctor.

  1. Fallon BA, Nields JA. Lyme disease: a neuropsychiatric illness. Am J Psychiatry. 1994;151(11):1571-1583.
  2. Sigra S, Hesselmark E, Bejerot S. Treatment of PANDAS and PANS: a systematic review. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2018;86:51-65.
  3. Muehlenbachs A, Bollweg BC, Schulz TJ, et al. Cardiac Tropism of Borrelia burgdorferi: An Autopsy Study of Sudden Cardiac Death Associated with Lyme Carditis. Am J Pathol. 2016.
  4. Kanjwal K, Karabin B, Kanjwal Y, Grubb BP. Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome following Lyme disease. Cardiol J. 2011;18(1):63-66.
  5. Krupp LB, Hyman LG, Grimson R, et al. Study and treatment of post Lyme disease (STOP-LD): a randomized double masked clinical trial. Neurology. 2003;60(12):1923-1930.
  6. Simons LE. Fear of pain in children and adolescents with neuropathic pain and complex regional pain syndrome. Pain. 2016;157 Suppl 1:S90-97.
  7. Klempner MS, Hu LT, Evans J, et al. Two controlled trials of antibiotic treatment in patients with persistent symptoms and a history of Lyme disease. N Engl J Med. 2001;345(2):85-92.
  8. Krause PJ, Telford SR, 3rd, Spielman A, et al. Concurrent Lyme disease and babesiosis. Evidence for increased severity and duration of illness. Jama. 1996;275(21):1657-1660.
  9. Rebman AW, Aucott JN. Post-treatment Lyme Disease as a Model for Persistent Symptoms in Lyme Disease. Front Med (Lausanne). 2020;7:57.
  10. Portnoy J, Waller M, Elliott T. Telemedicine in the Era of COVID-19. J Allergy Clin Immunol Pract. 2020.
  11. Hatcher-Martin JM, Adams JL, Anderson ER, et al. Telemedicine in neurology: Telemedicine Work Group of the American Academy of Neurology update. Neurology. 2020;94(1):30-38.
  12. Serper M, Volk ML. Current and Future Applications of Telemedicine to Optimize the Delivery of Care in Chronic Liver Disease. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2018;16(2):157-161 e158.
  13. Burnham JP, Fritz SA, Yaeger LH, Colditz GA. Telemedicine infectious diseases consultations and clinical outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis protocol. Syst Rev. 2019;8(1):135.

7 Replies to "Looking for a Lyme doctor?"

  • Tammy P Evans
    07/17/2023 (5:37 pm)

    I need help finding a Dr. that can help me with neurological lyme disease symptoms. I am seeing a neurologist, but he is not up-to-date with treatment. I’ve had it for several years, but I had also had it for several years before being diagnosed. Right now I am having a really bad flare-up and just getting worse. I am in South Alabama in a small town that doesn’t even have a psychiatrist. I can’t even get help with symptoms, much less any appropriate treatment. Both of my ears at different times over the past 3 years have broke out with knots that are extremely painful and become infected from Lyme Disease infection. The skin around my ear will tear and then harden up like the texture of a shellfish. I am a landscape designer and contractor and I’m use to daily hard, physical labor, but now I can hardly get out of bed. I’ve gone into a tremendous amount of debt just to try to work. Now I don’t even know how I’m going to provide for me and my son and I can’t get any help. I am so worn down physically, mentally and emotionally that I couldn’t survive a round of antibiotics right now. I’ve had to go to the emergency room for fluids because I’m just so weak and somehow had become dehydrated. I feel like I should be in a hospital now, but if I were to go they’d probably just send me home not understanding what all is wrong with me as usual, just like it was so hard to get a diagnosis in the first place. I don’t know how much longer I can take this. I’m just exhausted. I can’t do anything but cry and I am getting more and more depressed every day and giving up. I just need somebody to help me and tell me what I should do that I would be able to in my situation.

    • Dr. Daniel Cameron
      07/18/2023 (3:16 pm)

      You are not alone. I have Lyme disease patients in my practice in New York who have been quite sick. I hope you can find someone you can work with.

  • Todd
    02/04/2023 (8:52 pm)

    You use the word “may” multiple times in this post. I received a tick bite back on Thanksgiving day, and while I tested negative for Lyme at six weeks, acquired something that settled in my neck and can lead to migraine-like symptoms, nausea, and muscle stiffness if I stress my neck too much or put pressure on the back of my head/neck. Three weeks of doxycycline almost worked, but not quite. I’ve been in touch with various regional neurologists, rheumatologists, etc. and most are happy to see me…in March or April. I was hoping telehealth could be a way out, but it seems in reality specialists and telehealth don’t often mix.

    • Dr. Daniel Cameron
      02/06/2023 (2:09 pm)

      It can be difficult to find a doctor with experience treating Lyme for their perspective.

  • John
    12/30/2022 (11:39 am)

    i live in France and my wife got lyme last year in ohio is there a way of contacting a doctor for a test review or any help?

  • Stacy
    07/05/2021 (8:13 am)

    Are there any recommendations for a telemedicine doctor for Lyme?

    • Dr. Daniel Cameron
      07/05/2021 (8:52 am)

      The laws differ from state to state and continue to change. Doctors differ in their approach to telemedicine. I offer telemedicine once I have seen a patient but that varies from patient to patient and may also change over time.

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