Reactive arthritis is a type of arthritis that occurs due to an infection. Arthritis is when joints become inflamed and painful. Reactive arthritis is not contagious. It’s also known as Reiter’s Syndrome. It mostly affects men ages 20 to 50.
Reactive arthritis is not contagious, but it’s caused by some infections that are contagious. The infections that most often cause the disease are spread through sexual contact. One cause is the bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis. It can cause infections in the bladder, urethra, penis, or vagina. This is also known as genitourinary Reiter’s syndrome.
Other infections that can cause reactive arthritis infect the gut. One cause is salmonella. This infection can come from eating food or handling objects that have the bacteria. This form of the disease is known as gastrointestinal or enteric Reiter’s syndrome.
Reactive arthritis may also be linked to genes. People with reactive arthritis frequently have the HLA-B27 gene. But many people have this gene without getting reactive arthritis.
Risk factors for getting reactive arthritis include:
Reactive arthritis may cause arthritis symptoms, such as joint pain and inflammation. It can also cause urinary tract symptoms and eye infection (conjunctivitis). Symptoms can last from 3 to 12 months. In a small number of people, the symptoms may turn into chronic disease. Symptoms can happen a bit differently in each person, and may include:
Urinary tract symptoms
The process starts with a medical history and a physical exam. Diagnosis can be difficult. This is because there are no specific tests that can confirm the condition. Some blood tests may be done to rule out other conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Other tests may include:
Treatment will depend on your symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is. Treatment may also include:
The main symptoms of reactive arthritis will often go away in a few months. Some people may have mild arthritis symptoms for up to a year. Others may develop mild long-term arthritis. Up to half of people will have a flare-up of reactive arthritis in the future. In rare cases, the condition may lead to chronic, severe arthritis. This can lead to joint damage.
If your symptoms get worse or you have new symptoms, let your healthcare provider know.
Before you agree to the test or the procedure make sure you know:
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