Lyme Disease is a tick-borne illness that causes signs and symptoms ranging from rash, fever, chills and body aches to joint swelling, weakness and temporary paralysis. Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. Deer ticks, which feed on the blood of animals and humans, can harbor the disease and spread it when feeding.

You're more likely to get Lyme disease if you live or spend time in the grassy and heavily wooded areas where ticks carrying the disease breed. It's important to take common-sense precautions in areas where Lyme disease is prevalent. If treated with appropriate antibiotics in the early stages of the disease, you'll most likely recover completely. However, some people have recurring or lingering symptoms long after the infection has cleared.

Lyme disease signs and symptoms vary widely because Lyme disease can affect various parts of the body. Not everyone with the disease will have all of the signs and symptoms. But in general, Lyme disease can cause rash, flu-like symptoms, migratory joint pain, neurological problems.  Less common signs and symptoms: Some people may experience heart problems — such as an irregular heartbeat — several weeks after infection, but this rarely lasts more than a few days or weeks. Eye inflammation, hepatitis and severe fatigue are possible as well.

For more information, please see http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/lyme-disease/DS00116/DSECTION American Lyme Disease Foundation – http://www.aldf.com/programs.shtml

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Lupus as the prototypical autoimmune disease, lupus occurs when the immune system malfunctions.   The immune system is designed to protect the body from foreign invaders, such as bacteria and viruses.  It performs this role by producing antibodies, or proteins, to fight off infections.  In people with lupus, the immune system loses its ability to distinguish between these foreign substances, called antigens, and the body’s own cells and tissue.  For reasons that are not yet fully understood, the immune system then makes antibodies that are directed against "self."  The self-antibodies create immune complexes which lodge in the body’s tissue, causing inflammation and organ damage.

No one knows the exact cause of lupus. However, lupus is not infectious.  Researchers believe people with lupus are born with a genetic predisposition to the disease. Certain environmental factors also play a role in triggering disease activity.  These factors include infections, antibiotics, ultraviolet light, extreme stress, certain drugs, and hormones.  Hormonal factors may explain why lupus occurs more frequently in females than in males.  Although lupus is known to occur in families, researchers have not identified a specific gene or set of genes believed responsible for the disease.  Likely there are many different genes involved in various combinations that make individuals susceptible to developing lupus.  The impact of lupus varies widely from person to person.

There are several forms of true lupus. Systemic lupus can affect nearly any organ or organ system of the body. Cutaneous lupus affects the skin. Drug-induced lupus is brought on by certain medications, and resolves when the offending medication is discontinued. Neonatal lupus affects the fetus and can range from a rash that disappears with no ill effects to an irregular heart beat that requires the infant to have a pacemaker. The antiphospholipid syndrome comprises a combination of symptoms and is implicated in recurrent miscarriages and blood clots. Sometimes, people with inconclusive test results for lupus may instead be given a diagnosis of mixed connective tissue disease or undifferentiated connective tissue disease.

For more information on these and other developments in lupus research and education, visit the LFA website at http://www.lupus.org/ or call the LFA’s national toll-free information request line at 888-38-LUPUS (385-8787).

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Lumbar Denegerative Disk Disease As humans age, they endure both macrotraumas and microtraumas and undergo changes in posture that alter and redistribute biomechanical forces unevenly on the lumbar spine. Natural progression of degeneration of the lumbar segment with motion proceeds with characteristic anatomic, biomechanical, radiologic, and clinical findings in lumbar degenerative disk disease (LDDD).

For more information, please see http://www.emedicine.com/PMR/topic67.htm Spine-health – http://www.spine-health.com/conditions/degenerative-disc-disease/lumbar-degenerative-disc-disease

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Lumbar Facet Arthropathy Low back pain (LBP) remains a common musculoskeletal complaint, with a reported lifetime incidence of 60-90%. Various structures are possible sources of chronic LBP, including the posterior longitudinal ligament, dorsal root ganglia, dura, annular fibers, muscles of the lumbar spine, and facet joints.

Many techniques to diagnose facet joint pain using intra-articular joint blocks and medial branch nerve blocks, as well as ways to treat such pain with intra-articular steroids, surgical ablation, or radiofrequency (RF) denervation. Controversy continues regarding the true prevalence, most accurate diagnostic methods, and most efficacious treatment of symptomatic lumbar facet joints.

For more information, please see http://www.emedicine.com/PMR/topic68.htm eMedicine – http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/310069-overview

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Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is the most common functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorder with worldwide prevalence rates ranging from 9-23 percent and U.S. rates generally in the area of 10-15 percent. Functional disorders are conditions where there is an absence of structural or biochemical abnormalities on diagnostic tests, which could explain symptoms.

IBS is best understood as a long-term or recurrent (chronic) disorder of gastrointestinal functioning. It is characterized by multiple symptoms involving a disturbance in the regulation of bowel function that results in unusual sensitivity and muscle activity. These disturbances can produce symptoms of abdominal pain or discomfort, bloating or a sense of gaseousness, and altered bowel habits (diarrhea and/or constipation).

Abdominal pain and/or discomfort is the key symptom of IBS and is often relieved with the passing of a bowel movement (defecation). There are many causes for abdominal pain, but in IBS, the pain or discomfort is associated with a change in bowel habits. While everyone suffers from an occasional bowel disturbance, for those with IBS the symptoms are more severe, or occur more often either continuously or off and on. IBS affects men and women of all ages.

Symptoms can vary and sometimes seem contradictory, such as alternating diarrhea and constipation. The intensity and location of abdominal pain in IBS are highly variable, even at different times within a single person. The symptoms of IBS are produced by abnormal functioning of the nerves and muscles of the bowel. In IBS there is no evidence of an organic disease (where structural or biochemical abnormalities are found), yet, something—a "dysregulation" between the brain, the gut, and the central nervous system—causes the bowel to become "irritated," or overly sensitive to stimuli. Symptoms may occur even in response to normal events, such as eating a meal.

Upper gastrointestinal symptoms are commonly reported by IBS patients with 25 percent to 50 percent of patients reporting heartburn, nausea, abdominal fullness, and bloating. In addition, a significant number report intermittent upper abdominal discomfort or pain (dyspepsia).

Many IBS patients also report non-gastrointestinal symptoms such as fatigue, muscle pain, sleep disturbances, and sexual dysfunction. Up to 66 percent of IBS patients report non-gastrointestinal symptoms compared to less than 15 percent of healthy individuals. These non-gastrointestinal symptoms may be due to IBS coexistence with another disease or condition such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and interstitial cystitis. For example, the estimated prevalence of IBS in patients with fibromyalgia (FMS) is 30 percent or more with similar findings of FMS in patients with irritable bowel syndrome.

International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders– http://www.aboutibs.org/ Find out more by going to www.iffgd.org/ or www.aboutibs.org/; or call toll-free at 1-888-964-2001.

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