Chronic Joint Inflammation
Around half of all individuals who become infected by the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria and develop Lyme disease will experience chronic joint inflammation and the pain that comes along with it. Chronic joint inflammation most often develops months to years after the bite by the tick when the affected individual is in the late disseminated stage or stage three of their Lyme disease. In many individuals, Lyme disease-precipitated arthritis affects joints all over their bodies. However, some individuals may only experience this complication in certain joints, like the knees.
Most types of bacteria have a rigid wall composed of sugars and proteins they can recycle when they divide and grow. However, the Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria are different because they are unable to reuse their walls. Instead, this type of bacteria litters fragments of it into its immediate surroundings. As a result of this mechanism, the bacteria that invade the joints litter these substances, where they build up before the infection is can be identified. The joints become inflamed because the immune system responds to these materials by activating a chronic inflammatory process.