Reactive Arthritis

By: Joane Nate

Reactive arthritis is a form of arthritis that is usually very painful and develops as a result of a bacterial infection. The condition is mostly commonly diagnosed in men who are aged between twenty to fifty years old. It can affect the heels, toes, low back, fingers and joints especially those of the knees and ankles. Reactive arthritis usually shows up in the form of diarrhea or a sexually transmitted disease. However, it can also fail to show symptoms, the reason why it is also referred to as asymptomatic.

One may be wondering why reactive arthritis can present itself in the form of a sexually transmitted infection. The reason is because the bacteria that cause the condition are usually found in the genitals or the bowel. Some like the Chlamydia are mostly transmitted by sexual intercourse and can be detected through watery or pus-like discharge from the genitals. On the other hand, the bacteria found in the bowel; Campylobacter can cause diarrhea.


Even though reactive arthritis does show any symptoms in most occasions, below are some of the pointers that can help you in identifying whether you are suffering from the condition or not.

 Pain and swelling in certain joints especially the knees and/ ankles

 Swelling and painful sensations in the heels

 Extensive swelling of toes and fingers

 Persistent low back pain that tends to worsen at night and in the morning

Some people who have this condition may also experience eye irritation or redness. Burning with urination and rashes on the palms or soles are yet other symptoms that can also be experienced by people suffering from reactive arthritis.


The bacteria induce reactive arthritis through the distortion of the bodyís defense against infections as well as the genetic environment. The way in which each of these factors play roles in the condition varies from one patient to another and remains a focus of on-going research. Anyone who gets infected with the bacteria can develop reactive arthritis.

The diagnosis of the condition largely depends on the symptoms of the inducing infections. In case you have experienced either of the symptoms highlighted above, it would be advisable that you see a doctor for immediate examination and diagnosis. In most cases, your urine samples will be taken to the lab for testing. However, there are yet other forms of diagnosis that can be applied.


Once you are diagnosed with reactive arthritis, your doctor shall recommend various forms of treatment purposely to help in the management of the symptoms and addressing any underlying infection. In case your condition was as a result of a bacterial infection, your doctor shall prescribe antibiotics. The particular antibiotic for you will be based on the bacteria found present after diagnosis. The doctor can also recommend NDSIDs, Corticosteroids and rheumatoid arthritis drugs.

Physical therapy is yet another form of treatment that can help in improving joint function. Engaging in range-of-motion exercises can enhance the flexibility of the patientís joints thereby reducing stiffness.

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