Clinical and neurocognitive features of the post Lyme syndrome

J Rheumatol. 1996 Aug;23(8):1392-7.


Objective: To evaluate neurocognitive impairment in patients with persistent arthralgia, fatigue, and subjective memory loss in patients after Lyme disease (post-Lyme syndrome, PLS).

Methods: We compared the clinical, neurocognitive, and psychological features of 23 patients with PLS to 23 age, sex, and education matched recovered patients (REC). All met Centers for Disease Control criteria for Lyme disease, were ELISA positive at onset of Lyme disease and were previously treated with standard antibiotic regimens.

Results: Of the patients with PLS, 7 (30%) had fibromyalgia (FM), 3 (13%) had chronic fatigue syndrome, and 10 (43%) had similar but milder symptoms but did not meet the criteria for either. 22 of 23 patients with PLS complained of decreased memory or concentration problems. Patients with PLS had significantly lower scores on the attention/concentration scale (p = 0.012) of the Wechsler Memory Scale-Revised (WMS-R), indicating lowered attention/concentration. 52% of patients with PLS and 35% in the REC group had significantly lower (p < 0.05) WMS-R verbal memory scores than visual memory scores. The PLS group had subjectively more problems with sleep and mood changes and higher scores on several scales of Symptom Check List 90-R (p < 0.01), indicating greater physical distress. Beck Depression Inventory scores were also higher for the PLS than the REC group (p < 0.005), but were within the normal range.

Conclusion: Despite antibiotic treatment, a sequelae of Lyme disease may be a PLS characterized by persistent arthralgia, fatigue, and neurocognitive impairment that is probably induced by Lyme disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Arthralgia / complications
  • Arthralgia / diagnosis
  • Chronic Disease
  • Fatigue / complications
  • Fatigue / diagnosis
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic / complications
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic / diagnosis
  • Female
  • Fibromyalgia / complications
  • Fibromyalgia / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Lyme Disease / complications
  • Lyme Disease / diagnosis*
  • Lyme Disease / therapy
  • Male
  • Memory Disorders / complications
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement
  • Prognosis
  • Psychological Tests
  • Wechsler Scales