Reactive Arthritis

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Reactive Arthritis: What You Should Know

What is reactive arthritis?

Reactive arthritis is an uncommon disease that can make your joints hurt and swell. It can also cause rash, fever, weight loss, heart problems, red eyes, blurry vision and pain in the joints.

"Reactive Arthritis" means your immune system is reacting to an infection you already had. Reactive arthritis is also called Reiter's (say: "rite-erz") syndrome.

Who gets reactive arthritis?

Reactive arthritis is most common in men who are 20 to 40 years old.  You might get it a few weeks after having food poisoning.  You can also get it after having some kinds of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as gonorrhea, chlamydia or HIV infection.

Most people who get reactive arthritis were born with a gene, called HLA-B27, that makes them more likely to get this kind of arthritis.

How can my doctor tell I have reactive arthritis?

You probably have swelling in a knee, ankle or toe. Sometimes your heel or Achilles tendon will hurt. (The Achilles tendon is on the back of your ankle, right above your heel).  You may feel pain or burning when you urinate. You could have a discharge from your penis or vagina. You also might have redness and burning in the white part of your eye. You may have eye pain or blurred vision.

No one test can tell that you have the disease. Your doctor will put all information together to decide if you have it. You may also need to be tested for STDs, since it's possible to have an STD without knowing it.

How is reactive arthritis treated?

Your doctor may give you a strong medicine for the pain and swelling. You may also need antibiotics if you have an STD caused by bacteria. If you have an STD, it's important that you and your sex partner get tested and treated to keep the STD from coming back.

The good news is that in most people, reactive arthritis goes away in 3 to 4 months. In a few people, the joint pains come back again and again. These people might need a different medicine.

What can I do to get better?

  • Take your medicines.

  • If you have an STD, have your partners tested.

  • Practice safe sex.

  • Reduce your risk of getting food poisoning by cooking meat completely, washing utensils and surfaces well and keeping food cold so it doesn't spoil).

  • Do light exercises (ask your doctor what you can safely do).


The above opinionated views and information serves to educated and informed consumer .  The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. .It should not replaced professional advise and consultation.  A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions 

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