Does Lyme disease eat away at your hip cartilage?
by Betsy Thomason
Since my early twenties, when I fell in love with solo white water canoeing and climbing mountains in winter, I have been committed to taking good care of my body. Now that I’m in my late 70s, I thought I’d be reaping the benefits. I expected to ski to my grave.
So was I shocked when, at age 74, an X-ray of my left hip indicated almost total lack of cartilage. For the previous ten years, I had been having a nondescript sensation in my hip, a message that no doctor could decode.
But now, there was pain. I was still walking an hour each day and actually felt better during and after my walks. My chiropractor told me I was a candidate for a hip replacement. Without thinking, I said, “I don’t do replacement parts. I’m going to work on rebuilding the cartilage.”
I needed to figure out why my hip cartilage disappeared. I had been following online stories of Lyme-infected people. No two stories were the same. But what I learned is that the bacteria associated with Lyme enjoy consuming soft tissue: brain, heart, and of course, cartilage. Is this true? Is this true in my case? Who knows? The point is that this notion keeps me focused on healing.
First tick bite
In 1990, when I was bitten the first time, I was studying respiratory therapy, running a wilderness guide service, launching two teenage sons, and thinking I could do it all. Back then, my first inkling that I had been bitten was roving joint pain, from ankle one day to knee the next. A one-week course of doxycycline erased all evidence of Lyme and I was fully functional.
However, at about that same time, my thyroid went into a slump. Three years of homeopathic remedies restored my ability to produce thyroid stimulating hormone. But I still had low body temperature, which may be providing a safe harbor for the very Lyme critters I’m trying to eliminate. (That’s a topic for another day.)
My main issues have been gas and constipation. Decades ago, a poster in my dentist’s office claimed that health begins in the colon. I credit that idea with why I’m alive and active today. I focused on daily bowel movements and whatever it would take to achieve that goal: elimination diets, colonics, enemas, herbal parasite detox, Epsom salt, or senna tea, as needed. You name it, I probably tried it.
Now I believe that my life-long constipation issue is Lyme-related, with “the bugs” hidden deep in my gut.
In 2019, I was bitten again. Three months later, I noticed a huge circular red rash covering my entire chest. I used antibiotics for one month and experienced a horrific Herxheimer reaction. A naturopath guided my healing process with herbal remedies that seemed to restore my health.
A few months later, that X-ray my chiropractor had recommended showed no cartilage in my hip. My knees began to feel arthritic. Initially, I thought it was food related. Then I connected it to the Lyme progression. I continued walking an hour every day, including hills. But I gave up cross-country skiing. Snowshoeing became my winter activity, helping me maintain my sanity.
In 2022, I decided to give my chiropractor the benefit of the doubt and explore hip replacement. I watched hospital-produced videos about the technical aspects of hip replacement. I listened to friends rave about the operation.
I read Lyme blogs that convinced me that the missing cartilage in my hip was gobbled up by Lyme bugs over a period of at least ten years. That’s when I knew my flippant remark—I don’t do replacement parts—was true-blue for me.
One person’s blog about Lyme-related hip replacement convinced me. Her body rejected the artificial part. What do you do with a joint that has been torn apart to make space to screw in an artificial one? All the king’s horses and all the king’s men could not put Humpty Dumpty together again. My prayers go to this anonymous person. Your experience convinced me that I’m on track.
In 2022, my chiropractor suggested magnet therapy. After researching, soul searching, and foot dragging, I started the Lyme Magnetic Protocol, in May 2022. Joan Randall, who herself experienced Lyme, created the protocol based on the work of Dr. Isaac Goiz. Using kinesiology, the practitioner discovers where to place the medium intensity magnets on the body. This allows the body’s pH to normalize. The pathogens cannot survive this pH of 7.35 to 7.45.
Then the detoxification process starts, using every avenue available—bowel, urine, lymph, lungs, sweat, skin. This is intense work for practitioner and client. The detox aspect of one visit can take as much as four to six weeks to clear out of the body. As I have learned, the detox process needs to progress safely.
One of my sources for how to detox has been the organization Healing ALS, which provides support for people who wish to reverse ALS symptoms and restore function. Since Lyme symptoms can look exactly like ALS, I’ve gained insight and hope from this group.
Because my gut has been harboring the Lyme bugs for over thirty years, my magnet therapy may need to continue for another year. I’m committed. There is definitely a learning curve with ups and downs, stiffness, spasms, muscle twitching, joint pain, fatigue, doubt, and even depression as your body works to detoxify and restore function.
Just Breath Out
My own healing process has been enhanced by my work teaching effective breathing and authoring the book Just Breathe Out—Using Your Breath to Create a New, Healthier You.
The BreatheOutDynamic system (BODs) has been my guide through pain and uncertainty, reinforcing my determination to be well. One day soon, magnet therapy will have restored my gut. Then I can focus on building hip cartilage. A dozen pigs’ feet are in my freezer, waiting to create bone broth to support my efforts.
Betsy Thompson lives in Vermont. She can contacted via her website, OutBreath Institute.