Reactive Arthritis

Reactive arthritis includes a number of conditions where your eyes, urethra and joints may become inflamed. You may even suffer from lesions on your mucus membranes, as well as your skin. However, causes are unknown and usually most people will get it before age forty, especially people who have had yersinia, salmonella, campylobacter or Chlamydia. Others may simply be more susceptible due to genetic links to family who also had the disease. Young kids might get it, though rarely so, but even teenagers may experience it.

Symptoms of reactive arthritis appear usually within the days, weeks or months following those infections. If you get it, you may suffer from developing arthritis, conjunctivitis of the eyes, and a fever. Your symptoms may be mild or suddenly severe with the affected joints being on one side of your body, but it may affect multiple joints. Other common symptoms include:

  • Lower back pain

  • Ankle pain

  • Knee pain

  • Hip pain

  • Heel pain

  • Pain in your Achilles tendon

  • Tiny ulcers on the penis, tongue or mouth which are usually not painful

  • Psoriasis type lesions on your soles or palms

  • Burning eye pains

  • Discharge of the eyes

  • Stinging or burning urination

  • The need to urinate more frequently

  • A delay in the need to urinate

  • Inflamed skin

  • Reddened skin

  • Pain in the penis

  • Incontinence

Your doctor will do a series of tests and look for signs that are associated with the symptoms that you describe. However, a final diagnosis may be somewhat delayed if your symptoms come and go and only appear at specific times. Your doctor will examine you fully and look for any signs of lesions. Other tests include urinalysis, x-rays of your joints and blood tests for specified antibodies.

Treatments vary and usually include treating the infections and your symptoms. Some of your symptoms may just go away without help. You usually will be given antibiotics, pain killers and anti-inflammatory drugs. Physical therapy may help maintain your muscle’s strength and keep you mobile. You will probably have to avoid back strain by avoiding strenuous work or lifting. However, sometimes you may suffer complications, including uveitis, arrhythmias or aortic insufficiency, though these are usually very rare. Otherwise, if you have reactive arthritis, it may take some months to completely go and symptoms may reappear years later, even becoming chronic.


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