What You Should Know About Reactive Arthritis

Reactive Arthritis

Reactive arthritis is a painful form of arthritis that occurs as a result of infection in some other part of the body.
Most affected organs are knees, the joints of your ankles and feet. Inflammation can be seen in eyes, skin, and urethra.

Causative agents can be bacteria present in the genitals or the bowel. Chlamydia is the bacteria found in the genitals. Though asymptomatic, it can be transmitted by sex, causing a pus-like or watery discharge from the genitals. The bacteria present in the bowel causes diarrhea. Arthritis within one month of either genital discharge or diarrhea is indicative of reactive arthritis.

 

Signs and Symptoms

The triad of the symptoms:

  • Inflammatory arthritis of large joints
  • Inflammation of the eyes in the form of conjunctivitis or uveitis
  • Urethritis in men or cervicitis in women.

Other signs and symptoms include:-

  • Extensive swelling of the toes or fingers, heels
  • Persistent low back pain with sacroiliac joint involvement, which tends to be worse at night or in the morning
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Patches of scaly skin on the palms, soles, trunk, or scalp
  • Increased frequency

Discomfort during urination
Pain from inflammation of the ligaments and tendons at the sites of their insertion into the bone (enthesitis)

Your doctor will make a diagnosis based on symptoms of the suggestive infections and severity of joint and muscle involvement. The diagnosis is indicative of reactive arthritis if the occurrence of arthritis collides with or shortly following inflammation of the eye and the urinary tract and lasts a month or longer.

There’s no specific test for reactive arthritis, but the following may be used to confirm a diagnosis or rule out other causes of the symptoms:

  • A stool sample or swabs were taken from your throat, penis or vagina, which can be tested for signs of inflammation or infection. Blood tests to check for levels of inflammation and sometimes to test for the HLA-B27 gene.
  • X-ray to see any abnormalities in joints

Medical treatments for reactive arthritis include:

  • Bacterial infections, such as chlamydia,can be treated with antibiotics.
  • Joint inflammation from reactive arthritis is usually treated with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as naproxen, aspirin, or ibuprofen.
  • Skin eruptions and eye inflammation can be treated with steroids.
  • Those with chronic disease may be prescribed other medications, including methotrexate.
  • Patients with chronic arthritis also may be referred to a physical therapist and may be advised to exercise regularly.

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