Here it is; the first part of June already, and it’s hard to believe we had similar weather in January and February.
As the days get longer and the temperature gets warmer, the “outdoor” season is getting under way, in a big way – trips to the beach, barbeque picnics, days at the amusement parks and camping trips galore.
Now believe it or not, any one of these activities can pose risks to your health and well-being. While we should all practice a little common sense as we enjoy the great summer outdoors, there are some instances in which risks are present, but rarely seen until problems arise. Case in point – camping or hiking in forests, state parks and wooded areas.
|Don't let this little guy "tick" you off this summer.
Ticks are small insects that thrive in woods, fields, parks and anywhere there are multitudes of trees and large brush landscape. Ticks typically attach themselves to human “hosts” by latching onto them as they brush by a tree or bush.
Ultimately, these little guys seek warm moist places to settle and bite, attempting to ingest the blood of the “host” (a.k.a. you or me). Common locations include the scalp, pubic areas and areas on the torso where there may be large concentrations of body hair.
Many symptoms can be related to ticks bites, but few people realize that some of the symptoms can manifest themselves as an orthopedic problem. Here are a few examples of symptoms which, together with several others, comprise a “symptom/complication” list – fever, chills, swelling, joint pain and rash formation, to mention a few. For our purpose in this article, I’ll focus on the joint pain issue.
Most people don’t even realize they are harboring, or have been bitten by, a tick until symptoms begin to appear, and even then, many are unaware that the symptoms indicate a tick bite or tick presence on the body. Symptoms may be mild at first, but as long at the tick remains attached to the body, it can continue to inject venomous fluid causing symptoms to worsen.
Lyme disease is a frequent condition brought about by tick bites and can be severe if the tick is not located and removed. According to the authors at RightDiagnosis.com:
“The tick that can transmit Lyme disease is a small parasite that lives on animals, such as deer, rabbits, raccoons, and mice. People at risk for getting bitten by a tick infected with Borrelia burgdorferi, include those who spend time in areas where ticks are likely to live, such as thickly wooded areas or places with high brush and grass. Ticks that can transmit Lyme disease are particularly active during May, June and July.”
Many complications can arise from tick bites. Joint pain and arthritis can result from untreated tick bites. One such condition, Erlichiosis can manifest itself with symptoms of extreme muscle aches and joint pain, while another, Colorado Tick Fever, can cause severe aches in the back and limbs.
Get the tick off
So how do you know if you have a tick on your body?
First, seek help from a medical practitioner. A thorough history by the patient can give valuable insight and aid in locating the offending bug. In addition to a valuable history, a thorough physical examination is warranted to locate and safely remove the tick, which incidentally, must be removed intact. Often times, when the tick is pulled away, the head and mouthparts remain and continue to be a focus of continued symptoms.
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) offers this advice for tick removal:
If you find a tick attached to your skin, there’s no need to panic. There are several tick removal devices on the market, but a plain set of fine-tipped tweezers will remove a tick quite effectively.
1. Use fine-tipped tweezers to grasp the tick as close to the skin's surface as possible.
2. Pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t twist or jerk the tick; this can cause the mouthparts to break off and remain in the skin. If this happens, remove the mouthparts with tweezers. If you are unable to remove the mouth easily with clean tweezers, leave it alone and let the skin heal.
3. After removing the tick, thoroughly clean the bite area and your hands with rubbing alcohol, an iodine scrub, or soap and water.
“Avoid folklore remedies such as "painting" the tick with nail polish or petroleum jelly, or using heat to make the tick detach from the skin. Your goal is to remove the tick as quickly as possible--not waiting for it to detach.”
Coming in contact with ticks is far more frequent and easy than most people think, so when you’re outdoors enjoying the parks, ball diamonds and walking/hiking trails, be aware of where you stop to rest and what trees and shrubbery you may come in personal contact with. If you find yourself experiencing any of the above-mentioned symptoms, seek help sooner rather than later.
Chisholm’s expertise in nursing, orthopedics and surgery spans more than 30 years. For more information on orthopedic-related topics, visit www.bone-and-joint-pain.com. Submit questions or comments to Ken at
Don’t let this little guy “tick” You off this summer.