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Reactive Arthritis

Reactive Arthritis Causes

Reactive arthritis exhibits with an autoimmune damage to the cartilages of joints. Commonly, the condition is set off by gastrointestinal or genitourinary infections, such as those resulting from food poisoning. The disease may also result from sexually transmitted infections. HIV positive patients have an elevated risk of contracting reactive arthritis. Genital infections that precipitate reactive arthritis include Chlamydia trachomatis, Ureaplasma urealyticum, and Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Common gastrointestinal triggers include Shigella spp., Yersinia spp., Salmonella spp., and Campylobacter spp.

Reactive Arthritis Definition

Reactive arthritis (acronym: ReA) is a type of seronegative spondyloarthropathy and an autoimmune disorder that results from an infection in another part of the body. It is called ?reactive? because it is caused by another infection; and ?arthritis? because it presents with symptoms very similar to a range of conditions collectively called ?arthritis?. Other names for this condition include venereal arthritis, arthritis urethritica, and polyarteritis enterica.

Reactive Arthritis Diagnosis

Clinical symptoms indicative of reactive arthritis include pain, swelling, heat, and redness in the joints. An MRI is usually effective in confirming a diagnosis. To identify the causative organisms, swabs may be taken from the cervix, urethra, and throat. Urine and stool samples may also be analyzed.

Reactive Arthritis Symptoms and Signs

Reactive arthritis often manifests with three seemingly unrelated symptoms - an inflammatory arthritis of large joints, conjunctivitis and uveitis (inflammation of the eyes), and urethritis. In pop culture, a mnemonic for the disease has developed. A patient who ?cant' see, can't pee, can't climb a tree? is frequently suspected of reactive arthritis. Inflicted patients usually experience a burning sensation during urination (dysuria) or an increased frequency of urination (polyuria). Other known symptoms include prostatitis in men, and vulvovaginitis, cervicitis, or salpingitis in women. Arthritis then follows, often affecting the large joints (e.g. the knees) and causing pain or swelling of small joints (e.g. hands and wrists).

Reactive Arthritis Treatment

In treating reactive arthritis, the main focal point is to identify and ultimately eliminate the underlying infectious source. If still present, such infections can be treated with the appropriate antibiotics. If the infection is no longer present, treatment is directed towards alleviating the symptoms. For patients with severe reactive symptoms, immunosuppressants, steroids, and analgesics may be recommended.

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