Understanding Reactive Arthritis

Reactive arthritis is an autoimmune condition that develops as a response to an infection in the body. This condition is triggered as a reaction to another infection from some other part of the body, thus termed as "reactive". The condition is characterized by inflammation of the joints similar to that of arthritis. The the inflammation can also affect other organs such as the eyes, skin as well as the urethra.

Causes of reactive arthritis

The underlying cause of reactive arthritis is an infection occurring on the other parts of the body. The infections usually associated with reactive arthritis are those that are gastrointestinal in nature or those that affect the genitourinary tract. The infection triggers the inflammation typical of reactive arthritis. The severity of the infection is usually not related to the level of inflammation caused by the condition. In some people a mild bacterial infection may be enough to trigger serious reactive arthritis.

Symptoms of reactive arthritis

The usual symptoms of the condition are typical of what people with arthritis experience. The condition may cause inflammation of the joints usually in the ankles, knees, hips and feet. But the inflammation may not just be limited to the joints. Reactive arthritis may also cause the eyes, tendons, vertebrae, as well as other parts of the body to become inflamed. Other symptoms associate with the condition includes mouth ulcers, skin rashes, fever and weight loss.

How reactive arthritis is diagnosed?

There is no specific test that can help doctors diagnose reactive arthritis. Diagnosis of the condition usually depends on evaluating a patient’s medical history, performing a physical exam as well as a number of tests in order to rule out other conditions before suggesting if its reactive arthritis.

How to prevent reactive arthritis?

Although there are some genetic factors associated with reactive arthritis, there are certain preventive measures that can help avoid developing the condition. Because reactive arthritis can be triggered by an infection, measures that help prevent getting infected by bacteria as well as other microorganisms may do well to avoid the condition.

Making sure that food borne bacteria may not become a factor in triggering reactive arthritis during an infection is a god preventive measure. Try to keep food eaten well-cooked and stored in the proper place.

How to treat reactive arthritis?

Managing the symptoms attributed to reactive arthritis is the most common means of treatment. Another is by treating the infection that may have triggered the condition. Some of the medications that may be used to treat the symptoms include, anti-inflammatory agents, corticosteroids as well as antibiotics that may help fight off the bacterial infection. Physical therapy is also included in the treatment as a means to improve joint function.