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.
Signs and symptoms of this disease can come and go for most people, eventually disappearing within twelve months. Treatments involve therapies and medications to manage the symptoms and to eliminate any underlying infection.
Signs and 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)
?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 (tenditis) and tendon sheaths (tenosynovitis)
?Fever and chills
?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 basing 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.