I have seen many warnings, here and elsewhere, against taking any steroids if you have tick-borne illnesses. I am wondering if any of you have gotten to the point where you had to decide whether to risk taking one anyway, and how that turned out. Is there ever a time where the possible benefits outweigh the risks?
I'm dealing with inflammatory arthritis and osteoarthritis in both hands. It came on very quickly, and it seems to be getting worse day by day. (A few months ago, my hands were normal. In December, I developed minor joint pain in my fingers that steadily got worse. In January, my finger joints -- the DIP and PIP joints -- became enlarged, almost overnight. The joint swelling is bony rather than soft or boggy.)
An ultrasound showed synovial inflammation (meaning some type of inflammatory/autoimmune arthritis), and also osteophytes (which is a sign of osteoarthritis, probably triggered by the inflammation). I'm extremely scared and stressed by how quickly these things happened and how bad they've gotten. My fingers hurt all the time now, and I'm starting to see some swelling between the joints too. I also have discomfort in my knees, ankles, toes, elbows, back, and (oddly) my upper arm.
I started Plaquenil about a month ago. I've noticed no improvement yet, though I understand that any improvement (if I'm one of the lucky people for whom it works) can take a long time. I also recently began taking Meloxicam (starting with a small 7.5 mg dose), even though I know it's hard on the stomach. But I'm in a lot of discomfort.
My rheumatologist is urging me to try low-dose steroids because it may help to prevent damage to my joints. She adamantly does not believe that Lyme is an issue for me. (She believes that I may once have been exposed to Lyme, but she does not believe that it could persist after antibiotic treatment or that it can cause symmetrical arthritis in multiple small joints.)
Is it crazy for me to consider this? I have to admit that I feel a little desperate at this point. If I were confident that Lyme treatment will eventually resolve this pain/swelling, I would try to hold out. But I'm afraid that maybe this really is an autoimmune thing (maybe triggered by Lyme) -- and that I risk further permanent joint damage if I don't act quickly. I just want to do the right thing.
Started herbal treatment for Lyme in early 2017. Did 1 month of doxy Aug. 2017; started doxy again Jan. 2018. Uncertain about diagnosis b/c tests have been iffy, and my symptoms (dry eyes/mouth, finger joint pain/swelling) look like classic autoimmune issues. Different tests at different times have shown Lyme, babesia, bartonella, ehrlichia -- most recent tests show only Lyme (IgM bands only).