Reactive arthritis is pain and inflammation of a joint
that is caused by an infection in another part of your body.
Certain sexually transmitted diseases can cause pain and inflammation in your knee, hip, or other joint.
The Theory is:
It is thought that an infection in one area of your body somehow triggers an immune response in another part of your body.
How this occurs seems to vary from one person to another and this is the subject of much research.
Most Commonly Affected
Most commonly affected joints include your knees, ankles, and feet. It may also affect the heels, fingers, toes, and the joints of the low back.
The most common triggers for this reactive response are infections of the intestines, urinary tract and genitals.
Conjunctivitis is seen in
Image thanks to Daemonanyndel, via Wikimedia Commons
Symptoms of Reactive Arthritis include the symptoms of arthritis with pain, swelling, inflammation, and heat in one or more joints. In some cases the arthritis may be your only symptom.
However, you may also experience symptoms of the infection that is causing the arthritis.
These could be diarrhea, burning with urination, or a watery discharge from your genitals.
Chlamydia and gonorrhea are sexually transmitted diseases that can cause this type of arthritis.
If the chlamydia or gonorrhea infection does not cause any symptoms, the arthritis can be the only indication that you have an STD.
Reiter's Syndrome is an autoimmune disease that develops in response to a bacterial infection. The bacterial infection is most commonly found in the intestines, genitals, or urinary tract.
However, the pain and inflammation will occcur in other areas, and not only your joints. Reiter's Syndrome is a reactive arthritis in your joints that will also cause inflammation in your eyes (conjunctivitis) and urethra (urethritis).
Many cases of these cases of arthritis will be self limiting, meaning that they will go away on their own when the infection is treated. However, chronic infections that are present for months or years can lead to chronic arthritis and joint damage that does not go away.
The first step in treating this type of arthritis is treating any infection that may be causing it.
If your doctor suspects an infection of your bowel, urinary tract, or genitals he may order blood tests or other special test to check for infection.
Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) and Steroid Medications
Medications like ibuprofen and naproxen can relieve pain and reduce the swelling of inflammation. Steroids injected into the joint can be very effective for severe symptoms.