Background: Lyme borreliosis is an endemic disease in Slovenia with an incidence of around 150 patients per 100,000 inhabitants. Although the large joints are most typically affected in Lyme borreliosis, there are also periods of disease activity with arthritis or arthralgias involving smaller joints, including the temporo-mandibular joint.
Patients: During the years between 2000 and 2003, two patients with Lyme borreliosis affecting the temporo-mandibular joints were treated. The patients presented with fatigue and pain in diverse muscle groups accompanied by arthralgia, which was most pronounced in the temporomandibular joint area. None of the patients were febrile or had joint effusions.
Methods: Both patients were examined by means of biochemical and serological examinations for Borrelia burgdorferi using ELISA assay and Western blot test (both for IgM and IgG), plain radiographs, MR and CT scans, and scinti-scan of the temporo-mandibular joints They both had positive serum markers for an acute B. burgdorferi infection and were treated with intravenous ceftriaxone.
Results: None of the patients had clinical or laboratory signs of chronic Lyme disease activity two and four years following therapy, respectively. Roentgenographic and nuclear magnetic resonance imaging of the temporo-mandibular joints had not shown any persistent sign of acute inflammation.
Conclusion: There are only few reports of patients with manifest temporo-mandibular joint involvement of Lyme borreliosis in the literature. This report emphasizes the importance of differential diagnosis of acute temporo-mandibular joint arthralgia, of early diagnosis of Lyme borreliosis, and of the necessity for prompt antibiotic treatment.