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 40.
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 Reiter's syndrome. It’s also known as enteric Reiter's syndrome.
Reactive arthritis may also be linked to genes. About 80 percent of people who get the disease have a gene called HLA-B27.
Risk factors for getting reactive arthritis include:
Reactive arthritis may cause arthritis symptoms, such as joint pain and inflammation. It can also cause symptoms in the urinary tract symptoms and an infection of the eye (conjunctivitis). Symptoms can last from 3 to 12 months. In a small number of people, the symptoms may turn into chronic disease. Symptoms can occur a bit differently in each person, and may include:
Urinary tract symptoms
The symptoms of reactive arthritis can be like other health conditions. Make sure to see your health care provider for a diagnosis.
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, your age, and your 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 result in joint damage.
If your symptoms get worse or you have new symptoms, let your health care provider know.
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your health care provider:
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