Reactive arthritis is a condition that follows an infection in the body. It is also known by the term Reiter’s syndrome, named after Hans Reiter a physician leader of the Nazi party; therefore this term is less frequently used. It is an auto immune condition usually carrying the following symptoms: inflammation of the eyes or conjunctivitis, inflamed joints and inflammation of the gastro intestinal systems.
The condition is called reactive arthritis because of the body immune system reacting to bacterial infections present in the genital, urinary and gastrointestinal systems. This leads to inflammation in the eyes and joints.
Reactive arthritis usually occurs in people in their 30’s and 40’s though there’s no hard and fast rule to this. Males are often prone to this condition following any sort of venereal infections while both the genders are equally affected by this condition that follows after a bowel infection.
Some people have a genetic predisposition that can lead to development of this condition. This is found to be common in people carrying the HLA-B27 gene. There are no specific tests designed to diagnose this condition. A rheumatologist can tell from the symptoms and clinical findings though.
Arthritis usually lasts for duration of six months. Some people may go on to develop chronic arthritis. This is rare though. People carrying the HLA-B27 gene are prone to get repeated attacks of reactive arthritis.
The treatment procedure is standard. The patient will be administered an antibiotic to reduce the prevailing infection that caused the condition. He will also be given Non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs to reduce joint inflammations. Depending upon the severity of the inflammation, steroids/ steroid injections will have to be given. Sometimes disease modifying drugs like methotrexate will be prescribed by the rheumatologist.
People undergoing arthritis should take plenty of rest and should further take precautions to prevent stomach and genital infections.