Reactive arthritis

Overview

Reactive arthritis refers to joint pain and swelling that is caused by infection in another area of your body, most commonly your intestines or genitals.

Reactive arthritis typically affects your knees, ankles, and feet. Your eyes, skin, and urethra can also be affected by inflammation.

Reiter’s Syndrome was previously known as reactive arthritis. It was characterised by joint, eye and urethral inflammation.

Reactive arthritis is not common. Most people experience symptoms that disappear within 12 months.

Signs

Reactive arthritis usually manifests within one to four weeks of being exposed to a trigger infection. These symptoms could include:

  • Stiffness and pain.Reactive arthritis causes joint pain in the knees, ankles, and feet. Pain in your buttocks, heels, or low back may also be a sign of reactive arthritis.
  • Eye inflammationReactive arthritis can lead to eye inflammation (conjunctivitis).
  • Urinary problemsIt is possible to experience increased frequency and discomfort when you urinate. Also, inflammation of the prostate gland (cervix) may be a possibility.
  • Enthesitis is an inflammation of soft tissue that enters bone.These could include muscles, ligaments, and tendons.
  • Swollen toes or fingers.Sometimes, your fingers or toes may become so swollen they look like sausages.
  • Problems with the skinReactive arthritis can cause skin problems, such as a rash or sores on your palms or soles, and may also lead to skin cancer.
  • Low back painThe pain is more severe at night than in the morning.

When should you see a doctor?

Contact your doctor if you experience joint pain after having diarrhea or a serious genital infection.

Causes

Reactive arthritis is caused by an infection in your body. This can be in your intestines or genitals. If the infection causes only mild symptoms, or none at all, you might not be aware.

Reactive arthritis can be caused by many bacteria. Some bacteria can be transmitted sexually while others can be foodborne. These are the most common:

  • Chlamydia
  • Salmonella
  • Shigella
  • Yersinia
  • Campylobacter
  • Clostridium difficile

Reactive arthritis is not contagious. It can be transmitted by sexual contact or through contaminated food. Reactive arthritis is only a rare condition that can be caused by these bacteria.

Risk factors

Reactive arthritis can be increased by certain factors

  • Age Most people with reactive arthritis are between the ages 20 and 40.
  • Sex. Reactive arthritis is a condition that can be caused by foodborne illnesses. Both men and women are equally at risk. Reactive arthritis caused by sexually transmitted bacteria is more common in men than it is in women.
  • Factors that are inherited. Reactive arthritis has been linked to a specific genetic marker. However, many people with this gene do not develop reactive arthritis.

Prevention

Reactive arthritis is a risk factor that can be influenced by genetic factors. Although you cannot change your genes, you can decrease your exposure to bacteria that could cause reactive arthritis.

To avoid foodborne bacteria, ensure that your food is properly cooked and stored at the right temperatures. Reactive arthritis can be caused by sexually transmitted infections. Using condoms might lower your risk.

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