Reactive arthritis also known as Reiter’s Syndrome, is an inflammatory condition that develops in response to an infection in another part of the body.  Though inflammation of the joints is a defining feature of reactive arthritis, this form of arthritis can also be associated with inflammation in other parts of the body including the skin, the eyes, the bladder, the genitals, and the mucus membranes.  Reactive arthritis is said to occur as a “reaction” to an infection that started elsewhere in the body, generally in the genitourinary or gastrointestinal tract.


There is something commonly known as Reiter’s Syndrome and is reactive arthritis.  It is a type of arthritis that is known by swelling, redness, and heat in the joints.  This is going to be especially in the spine and inflammation of other joints, urinary tract and even the eyes.  Reiter’s Syndrome is something that is related to the family of different arthritic conditions that is known as spondylarthropathies. This is known to bother the spine.  Anyone that is suffering from Reiter’s Syndrome will have fever, swelling, and ulcers in the mouth, weight loss and sores on the skin. With many of the diseases that are known today, Reiter’s Syndrome has no confirmed cause and can affect anyone of any age, gender or race. There are researchers that do believe that Reiter’s Syndrome is going to be due to mostly genetics because there are many tendencies that seem to run in families.  There is about 75% of people who are suffering from Reiter’s Syndrome have a certain gene that is known to start the condition.  This is a painful disease that will affect young men who are white and around the ages of 20 and 40.  Reiter’s Syndrome is also known to develop after certain infections in the small intestine, genitals, and urinary tract.  It is linked to salmonella contamination, so you nee to take measures to avoid this condition by being sure that your foods are cooked properly. This disease does affect a number of parts of the body.  There are different treatments that must be used to help the patients be healthy and have normal lives.  Medications like NSAIDS that block and stop inflammation in joints and may be used.  There are antibiotics and skin medications that are used to clear up the painful sores that will start on the body.  Anyone that is suffering from Reiter’s Syndrome will also see urologists to deal with the urinary tract infections and occupational therapists will take care of the joints.  Use dermatologists to clear up the skin problems and there are physical therapists to teach different exercises that can be done to help lower the pain and swelling in joints.  Anyone may also want to see doctors that specialize in the eyes because this is a condition that causes inflammation in this part of the body too.  If you or someone that you know is diagnosed with Reiter’s Syndrome called Reactive Arthritis, you need to learn as much about it as you can so that you can learn to live with it and have a normal life.

Signs & Symptoms of Reactive Arthritis

Generally, the signs and symptoms of the disease start days to weeks after exposure to a triggering infection in susceptible people.  These signs and symptoms may come and go over a period of weeks or months.  Sometimes when the signs and symptoms are mild, it can go undetected for a long time. Common signs and symptoms:
  • Pain, swelling, and stiffness in the joints including the ankles, knees, feet, and hips
  • Inflammation of the urogenital tract (cystitis) which causes urinary frequency and causes burning sensation during urination or discharge from the penis in men
  • Eye Inflammation (conjunctivitis) that causes redness, pain, sensitivity to light and skewed vision.
  • Inflammation of the inner eye (uveitis)
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Skin rashes that commonly appear as thickened red or brown spots, scaling rashes on the palms and hands or soles of the feet, or a red scaling rash on the penis
  • Inflammation of the tendons and tendon sheaths (tenosynovitis)
  • Fever and chills
  • Weight loss
  • Genital sores appearing on the shaft of the penis or scrotum, or in women, on the external areas of the genitals. These are usually blisters that break open and crust over.
  • Enthesopathy which is an inflammation where the tendon attaches to the bone
  • Inflammation and pain in the lower back or pelvic area

Causes of Reactive Arthritis

Numerous bacteria can cause the disease.  Different forms of reactive arthritis are named based on the origin of the bacteria that caused the infection:


Infections that originate in the penis, vagina, bladder or urethra, are called urogenital (genitourinary) reactive arthritis or uroarthritis.  The bacterium that is most often associated with reactive arthritis is called Chlamydia.


If the infection is the result of something that was eaten or handles, such as raw meat’s carrying bacteria, the condition is called gastrointestinal (enteric) reactive arthritis, or enteroarthritis. Food-borne bacteria include salmonella, Shigella, Yersinia, and Campylobacter. Reactive arthritis is not contagious; however the bacteria that causes it can be passed on from one person to another, such as during sexual contact and food preparation.  Few people who are exposed to these bacteria develop reactive arthritis. A person developing the signs and symptoms of reactive arthritis should see a doctor at once.  Treating the disease once diagnosed will help eradicate further complications.


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