CRDAMC Homepage | CRDAMC Library Phone #: (254) 288-8366 | CRDAMC Library Fax #: (254) 288-8368

Search Health Library

Reiter’s Syndrome

(Reactive Arthritis)

Definition

Reiter’s syndrome is an inflammatory reaction to an infection somewhere in the body. It usually follows an infection of the urinary, genital, or digestive tract. It is treated with rest and medication.

Causes    TOP

Reiter's syndrome is triggered by certain infections. It is usually caused by the bacterium that causes chlamydia. Chlamydia is transmitted through sexual contact with an infected partner. The infection can also begin in the digestive system. In these cases, the infection occurs after eating food tainted with bacteria.

Risk Factors    TOP

Factors that may increase your chances of getting Reiter's syndrome:

  • Family members with Reiter's syndrome
  • Inheriting the genetic trait associated with Reiter’s syndrome (HLA-B27)
  • Having a chlamydia infection or an infection in the digestive system

Symptoms    TOP

Symptoms occur in the joints, the eyes, the urinary tract, and genitals. Men and women may experience different symptoms. In rare cases, heart problems may develop later in the disease.

Joints

  • Swelling, pain, and redness, especially in the knees, ankles, and feet
  • Heel pain
  • Back pain and stiffness

Eyes

  • Redness
  • Burning
  • Irritation
  • Blurred vision
  • Tearing
  • Discharge

Urinary Tract and Reproductive System    TOP

In men:

  • Burning sensation when passing urine
  • Penile discharge

Male Urinary System

Male Genito-urinary System
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

In women:

  • Burning sensation when passing urine
  • Inflamed vagina and cervix

Other Symptoms    TOP

  • Rash, especially on the palms or soles
  • Ulcers in the mouth or on the tongue
  • Weight loss
  • Poor appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Fever

Diagnosis    TOP

Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Your doctor uses these findings to help make the diagnosis. There is no specific test to check for Reiter’s syndrome.

Your doctor may need to test your bodily fluids and tissues. This can be done with:

  • Blood tests
  • Culture, gram stain, or other tests
  • Removal of fluid from the affected joints

Your doctor may need pictures of your bodily structures. This can be done with x-rays.

Treatment    TOP

There is no cure for Reiter’s syndrome. Most people recover from the initial episode within 12 months. Others develop mild, chronic arthritis. Some suffer from additional episodes of the disorder.

Treatment aims to relieve symptoms and may include:

Rest

Short-term rest to take the strain off the joints.

Protecting the Joints

This includes:

  • Supportive devices as recommended by your doctor
  • Occupational therapy to learn how to take it easy on joints during daily activities

Medications    TOP

Your doctor may prescribe some of the following:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Sulfasalazine
  • Steroid injections into the inflamed joint
  • Topical steroid creams applied to skin lesions
  • Antibiotics to treat the triggering infection
  • Medication that suppresses the immune system
  • Eye drops

Prevention    TOP

To reduce your chances of Reiter's syndrome:

  • Always use a latex condom during sexual activity
  • Have a monogamous relationship
  • Do not go back and forth between sexual partners
  • Have regular checkups for sexually transmitted diseases
  • Wash hands before eating or handling food
  • Only eat foods that have been stored and prepared properly

RESOURCES:

Arthritis Foundation
http://www.arthritis.org
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
https://www.niams.nih.gov

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Arthritis Society
https://www.arthritis.ca
Public Health Agency of Canada
https://www.canada.ca

References:

Questions and answers about reactive arthritis. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/reactive-arthritis. Accessed December 8, 2017.
Reactive arthritis. American College of Rheumatology website. Available at: https://www.rheumatology.org/I-Am-A/Patient-Caregiver/Diseases-Conditions/Reactive-Arthritis. Updated March 2017. Accessed December 8, 2017.
Reactive arthritis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116312/Reactive-arthritis. Updated March 27, 2017. Accessed December 8, 2017.
Last reviewed December 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board David L. Horn, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 12/20/2014

EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at healthlibrarysupport@ebsco.com. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.

Health Library: Editorial Policy | Privacy Policy | Terms and Conditions | Support
36000 Darnall Loop Fort Hood, Texas 76544-4752 | Phone: (254) 288-8000