Reactive arthritis

Alternative Names

Reiter syndrome; Post-infectious arthritis

Definition of Reactive arthritis

Reactive arthritis is a group of inflammatory conditions that involves the joints, urethra, and eyes. There may also be sores (lesions) on the skin and mucus membranes.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

The exact cause of reactive arthritis is unknown. It occurs most commonly in men before the age of 40. It may follow an infection with Chlamydia, Campylobacter, Salmonella, or Yersinia. Certain genes may make you more prone to the syndrome.

Symptoms

Urinary symptoms usually appear within days or weeks of an infection. Low-grade fever, inflammation of the conjunctiva of the eye (conjunctivitis), and arthritis develop over the next several weeks. The arthritis may be mild or severe, and may affect only one side of the body or more than one joint.

Signs and tests

The diagnosis is based on symptoms. Since the symptoms may occur at different times, the diagnosis may be delayed. A physical examination may reveal conjunctivitis or typical skin lesions.

Treatment

The goal of treatment is to relieve symptoms and treat any underlying infection.

Expectations (prognosis)

Reactive arthritis may go away in a few weeks, but can last for a few months. Symptoms may return over a period of several years in up to half of the people affected. The condition may become chronic.

Review

Mark James Borigini, MD, Rheumatologist in the Washington, DC Metro area. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 5/13/2010

Reiter

ADAM Medical Encyclopedia

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