The first sign of Lyme disease is usually a bull's-eyerash that begins from 3 to 30 days after the bite. This circular rash expands to several inches or more in diameter before disappearing after a few weeks.
Be aware, however, that there's not always a rash, or the rash may look different than a bull's-eye shape.
A diagnosis of arthritis is the first step toward successful treatment. To diagnose arthritis, your doctor will consider your symptoms, perform a physical exam to check for swollen joints or loss of motion, and use blood tests and X-rays to confirm the diagnosis. X-rays and blood tests also help distinguish the type of arthritis you have. For example, most people with rheumatoid arthritis have antibodies called rheumatoid factors (RF) in their blood, although RF may also be present in other disorders...
You may also have vague pains in the joints, without swelling. In about 60% of people who are not treated, this joint pain returns months to years later as painful arthritis, with swelling often in one or both knees. In about 10% to 20% of these cases, Lyme arthritis becomes chronic. Some patients also experience a complex range of other symptoms, including stiff neck, headaches, sensitivity to light, memory loss, mood changes, chronic fatigue, recurring rashes, paralysis of one or both sides of the face, disruption of heart rhythm, and areas of tingling or numbness.
In summary, general symptoms may include:
A circular, bull's-eye rash, often with a clear center, expanding to 8 inches or more and lasting 2 to 4 weeks
If untreated, you may develop a generalized, painful kind of arthritis, with swelling, weeks later.
See Your Doctor About Lyme Disease If:
You think you may have contracted Lyme disease, especially if you notice a bull's-eye rash or if you suddenly develop knee pain and swelling without previous injury or arthritis. Delaying treatment can result in more serious neurological symptoms that can be difficult and sometimes impossible to cure.