About Careers MedBlog Contact us

Reactive Arthritis - Symptoms - Causes - Diagnosis - Treatment

Last Updated on Jul 28, 2021
Font : A-A+


Reactive Arthritis is an auto immune condition . It is also known as Ďreactive arthritisí because the arthritic inflammation in this condition is usually the result of an infection affecting another body part.


What is Reactive Arthritis?

Reactive arthritis is an autoimmune condition that was first described by a German military physician Hans Reiter in 1918. He discovered this disease as he was examining a World War I Prussian soldier who was recuperating from a bout of diarrhea. The three characteristic features he described included - inflammation of the joints, urinary tract, and eyes. Since then doctors have identified a fourth major feature - ulcerations of the skin and mouth.

ĎReactiveí Arthritis as the arthritic inflammation in this condition is usually the result of an infection affecting another body part. Spinal inflammation has gained the disease the name Spondyloarthropathy. When arthritis and urethritis alone are present (conjunctivitis absent) the term Abortive Reactive Arthritis is used. It has been suggested that the term Reactive Arthritis be discouraged from usage due to Dr. Reiterís experimental work in the concentration camps of the Nazis and also because there is an effort to stop assigning personal names to diseases. The disease is primarily characterized by a triad of manifestations - conjunctivitis, arthritis, and urethritis; Although urethritis (urinary tract infection) usually occurs first, the clinical manifestations are dominated by polyarthritis and characterized by pain, redness, swelling and heat in the joints.

Some of the other disorders associated with Reactive Arthritis are ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, and inflammatory bowel syndrome. Reactive Arthritis may be acute in the vast majority of affected individuals in whom the condition will resolve on its own in a period of one year. In some it may recur frequently for many years and this will lead to the condition becoming chronic.


Nearly 40 % of patients with Reactive Arthritis develop disabling arthritis, kidney or heart disease or impaired vision. The etiology is yet unclear but this autoimmune disease is believed to be triggered by Pleuro pneumonia- like viral organisms or Chlamydia. The condition usually manifests itself after a bout of infection involving the gastric mucosa (stomach lining), genital region or the lower urinary tract. Treatment for Reactive Arthritis is focused at controlling the symptoms and eliminating microbial infection. The disease usually affects Caucasian men between the ages of 16 and 42 years of age, although it is also known to occur in older people and smaller children.

Most cases involve adults in their forties. One fifth of the women are affected as often as men and when it occurs, women get the post -dysenteric form of the disease. They are less likely to have the arthritic symptoms. The sexually transmitted form is more prevalent among sexually active young men. The disease is a rarity among Black males. People affected by Reactive Arthritis have the potential to enjoy a normal span of life thanks to lifestyle modifications and excellent treatments available. Early diagnosis of the patient is important to prevent the development of arthritic complications.

Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

  • APA

    Dr. Reeja Tharu. (2021, July 28). Reactive Arthritis - Symptoms - Causes - Diagnosis - Treatment. Medindia. Retrieved on Jun 01, 2023 from https://www.medindia.net/patients/patientinfo/reactive-arthritis.htm.

  • MLA

    Dr. Reeja Tharu. "Reactive Arthritis - Symptoms - Causes - Diagnosis - Treatment". Medindia. Jun 01, 2023. <https://www.medindia.net/patients/patientinfo/reactive-arthritis.htm>.

  • Chicago

    Dr. Reeja Tharu. "Reactive Arthritis - Symptoms - Causes - Diagnosis - Treatment". Medindia. https://www.medindia.net/patients/patientinfo/reactive-arthritis.htm. (accessed Jun 01, 2023).

  • Harvard

    Dr. Reeja Tharu. 2021. Reactive Arthritis - Symptoms - Causes - Diagnosis - Treatment. Medindia, viewed Jun 01, 2023, https://www.medindia.net/patients/patientinfo/reactive-arthritis.htm.

Latest Publications and Research on Reactive Arthritis

Do you wish to consult a Rheumatologist for your problem? Ask your question

Dr. Santhosh Babu M R
Dr. Santhosh Babu M R
MBBS, DPhysMed
37 years experience
Apollo Sugar Clinic, Patturaikkal, Thrissur
View All

Post a Comment

Comments should be on the topic and should not be abusive. The editorial team reserves the right to review and moderate the comments posted on the site.



I have had Reiter's for approximately 30 years. I am in severe pain at least two months a year. Right now, it is busy chewing up my heart. A person can do many sports provided they avoid flares. On a day to day basis, I use Celebrex, and, Indocin when I need something more.


My partner has informed me that he has Reiters Syndrome and we have been having an intimate relationship. I have very very sore ankles and thought this was due to my jogging along the beach. Can you tell me if this is sexually transmitted and even though he hasn't had any symptoms for 5 years is he contagious.


"The Peanut Butter Kid" alias Mike Thomas was one of many who contracted salmonella through peanut butter. His case/health is very severe right from the beginning. Mike is also going before a panel of our Representitives in Washington DC in early Feb. of this year. This is his 2nd appearance before a committee to put pressure on these people to enact more severe legislation to prevent future outbreaks of salmonella and resulting diseases like Reactive Arthritis. Repeat outbreaks from Peanut Butter is just not tolerable. Men, women and most of all kids and babies are dying from the lack of enforcement and the agriculteral industries. Mike Thomas found me on this site. I believe and he contacted me about his own suffering and relating it to my own suffering for over 20 years. It is truly great to be able to talk to someone who has this disease and realize we are not alone and can make a difference in other lives.
Be looking in Feb. for news articles about Mike Thomas and his appearance before the govn't committees that regulate the health industry. Blessing on all who suffer, we can make a difference. Mitchell Fagan, Duluth, GA


Dear Steve it sounds like you went through the same thing I did. I was crippled for 3 months, bedridden but slowly I moved forward and went back to work on crutches and a wheelchair. It was very painful but I worked for some incredible people. I had a cedar lounge chair put by my workplace and started by working just one hour at a time and collapsing in the lounge chair to relieve my pain. Before long about 2 years into it I was able to work a full time period and continued on for 20 years. But like you Steve, it just became to much to handle and that's when I looked into SSDI. The thing is Steve you have to have not worked for 1 year before they will look into your case. YOU MUST have a LAWYER!!!!!! You will have to document everything from the past to present with all your Doctors writing letters of your incapcity and that you will never improve with your disease. Even then it will go through many SSDI adjudicators/lawyers till you see a Judge in the end to decide your case. Also look into their BlueBook for Reiter's and you will find it is a listing of diseases they will consider for disability.


I have had the same problems and was linked to Petter Pan Peanut Butter. Does anyone know how I could contact The Peanut Butter Kid!!! I really need to find anyone that has doctored for this and may know of treatments the doctors have done everything and looked for everything, I have had every one of these problems and it looks to be of the same bad batch of PB.


The story of Reiter's is a long one and many doctor's fail to see the whole picture of the diesease and are thus unable to diagnosis it. I had a period of over 1 to 2 years before it was diagnosed, and that was over 20 years ago. It has been chronic in me also for 20 years and it took a while before the drug therapies really began to take off in relieving the many problems and pain associated with the disease. One the use of anti-depressants Cymbalta, muscle relaxers, Lyrica, and more have helped me to live out each day, Before I worked for many years with exhaustive pain and stress aging me fast. I became fully disabled 5 years ago at the age of 50 and am now living on SSDI which in itself took more than 4 years for Social Security to declare me disabled. I hope everyone out there with the disease is getting similar treatment that I receive and that Doctor's will not hold back on narcotic drugs too to help with this incurable disease. I pray for all, patients, doctors and researchers that one day a cure will be found. God Bless you all and patients remember to take it one moment at a time, there can be serenity and life beyond this disease. Thanks for letting me sound off, Mitchell Fagan, Duluth, Georgia.


I read your post and really relate as I'm having a hard time trying to work with the pain, I don't think I can go much longer as it just takes it out of me. I think I need to get on SSDI at this point, I'm sure I qualified years ago, I wanted to work though but I can't keep up anymore. My blood work and joint damage are there for them to see but will it take that long to get help? St. Pete, Florida.

Recommended Reading
Benefits of Registration
Health Topics A - Z
What's New on Medindia
Gut Microbes Could Revolutionize the Treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Proposed Hospital Protection Act by the Kerala Government
Liability Determination in AI-driven Medical Practices
View all

Medindia Newsletters Subscribe to our Free Newsletters!
Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.
This site uses cookies to deliver our services.By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Use  Ok, Got it. Close