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Reactive arthritis

Reactive arthritis: Introduction

Reactive arthritis is a rare type of arthritis that causes inflammation of the urinary tract, eyes, skin, mucus membranes, and joints. Reactive arthritis is believed to occur as a reaction to certain infections of the reproductive system and the digestive system.

Infections that can lead to the complication of reactive arthritis include a common sexually transmitted disease called chlamydia. This is the most common cause of reactive arthritis. A less common cause of reactive arthritis is food poisoning due to Salmonella, Shigella, Yersinia or Campylobacter infection. Why some people develop reactive arthritis in reaction to these infections and other people don't is not known. However, having a certain genetic factor called HLA-B27 increases a person's chance of developing reactive arthritis.

Hallmark symptoms of reactive arthritis affect the urinary tract, eyes, skin, mucus membranes, and joints. Complications include the development of chronic arthritis. For details about additional important complications and symptoms, refer to symptoms of reactive arthritis.

Making a diagnosis of reactive arthritis begins with taking a thorough medical history, including symptoms and history of Chlamydia infection or food poisoning, and completing a physical examination. A referral is generally made to a rheumatologist for definitive diagnosis and treatment. There is no specific test that can diagnose reactive arthritis. Diagnosis is made by evaluating the symptoms and interpreting them in conjunction with tests that rule out other diseases and conditions and/or increase the suspicion of a diagnosis of reactive arthritis.

For example, a blood rheumatoid factor (RF) test will generally be positive in rheumatoid arthritis, which has some similar symptoms, but generally negative in reactive arthritis. Other tests may include a C-reactive protein or erythrocyte sedimentation rate, which indicate an inflammatory process occurring somewhere in the body. A chlamydia test can diagnose the presence of a chlamydia infection, one of the infections that can lead to reactive arthritis. A test may also be run to check for the genetic factor HLA-B27, which increases the risk of developing reactive arthritis. X-rays may show some changes that are characteristic of reactive arthritis and may rule-out some other possible causes of symptoms.

It is possible that a diagnosis of reactive arthritis can be missed or delayed because symptoms can vary amongst individuals and can come and go. In addition, some symptoms may be similar to symptoms of other diseases and conditions. For more information on diseases and conditions that can mimic reactive arthritis, refer to misdiagnosis of reactive arthritis.

Treatment for reactive arthritis varies depending on the underlying infection, the severity of symptoms, the presence of complications, a person's age and medical history, and other factors. Reactive arthritis cannot be cured, but treatment can help to reduce symptoms until the disorder resolves spontaneously on its own. Most people with reactive arthritis have a good long-term prognosis and symptoms disappear within about a year. For details on treatments, refer to treatment of reactive arthritis. ...more »

Reactive arthritis: This form of arthritis develops after an infection involving the lower urinary tract, bowel, or other organs. It is commonly ... more about Reactive arthritis.

Reactive arthritis: The inflammation of a joint. More detailed information about the symptoms, causes, and treatments of Reactive arthritis is available below.

Reactive arthritis: Symptoms

The types and severity of symptoms of reactive arthritis vary between individuals. Symptoms of reactive arthritis are due to inflammation that can affect the urinary tract, genitals, reproductive system, eyes, skin, mucus membranes, as well as the muscles and joints. However, not all people will have all symptoms, and all symptoms may not occur together at the same time. ...more symptoms »

Reactive arthritis: Treatments

Treatment of reactive arthritis varies depending on the type of symptoms, the severity, and other factors. Treatment includes a multifaceted plan that addresses the symptoms and treats any underlying infection, such as chlamydia.

Reactive arthritis cannot be cured, but treatment can minimize symptoms until the disorder resolves spontaneously on its own. Most people with ...more treatments »

Reactive arthritis: Misdiagnosis

A diagnosis of reactive arthritis may be delayed or missed because symptoms vary between individuals in nature and severity. Symptoms may also come and go. Symptoms of reactive arthritis can be similar to symptoms of other diseases and conditions, such as osteoarthritis, sexually transmitted diseases, aging, excessive exercise, cystitis, conjunctivitis, urinary tract ...more misdiagnosis »

Symptoms of Reactive arthritis

Treatments for Reactive arthritis

  • Treatment of reactive arthritis depends on the cause, severity and duration of the symptoms. Treatments include:
    • Explanation - Education plays an important role in arthritis management
    • Rest - during bouts of active inflammation
    • Exercise - graduated exercise program recommended to maintain good joint function
    • Physiotherapy - can assist with regaining and maintaining joint function
  • more treatments...»

Home Diagnostic Testing

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Wrongly Diagnosed with Reactive arthritis?

Reactive arthritis: Related Patient Stories

Types of Reactive arthritis

Causes of Reactive arthritis

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Disease Topics Related To Reactive arthritis

Research the causes of these diseases that are similar to, or related to, Reactive arthritis:

Reactive arthritis: Undiagnosed Conditions

Commonly undiagnosed diseases in related medical categories:

Misdiagnosis and Reactive arthritis

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Reactive arthritis: Research Doctors & Specialists

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Hospitals & Clinics: Reactive arthritis

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Choosing the Best Hospital: More general information, not necessarily in relation to Reactive arthritis, on hospital performance and surgical care quality:

Reactive arthritis: Rare Types

Rare types of diseases and disorders in related medical categories:

Evidence Based Medicine Research for Reactive arthritis

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Click here to find more evidence-based articles on the TRIP Database

Reactive arthritis: Animations

Research about Reactive arthritis

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Clinical Trials for Reactive arthritis

The US based website lists information on both federally and privately supported clinical trials using human volunteers.

Some of the clinical trials listed on for Reactive arthritis include:

Statistics for Reactive arthritis

Reactive arthritis: Broader Related Topics

Reactive arthritis Message Boards

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User Interactive Forums

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Article Excerpts about Reactive arthritis

This form of arthritis develops after an infection involving the lower urinary tract, bowel, or other organs. It is commonly associated with eye problems, skin rashes, and mouth sores. Reiterís syndrome is an example of reactive arthritis. (Source: excerpt from Questions and Answers About Arthritis and Rheumatic Diseases: NIAMS)

Definitions of Reactive arthritis:

Reactive arthritis is listed as a "rare disease" by the Office of Rare Diseases (ORD) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This means that Reactive arthritis, or a subtype of Reactive arthritis, affects less than 200,000 people in the US population.
Source - National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Ophanet, a consortium of European partners, currently defines a condition rare when it affects 1 person per 2,000. They list Reactive arthritis as a "rare disease".
Source - Orphanet


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