Reactive arthritis is a condition with symptoms similar to arthritis or rheumatism. It is caused by another illness, such as Crohn's disease, and is thus "reactive", i.e. dependent on the other condition. more...
Reactive Arthritis is the combination of three seemingly unlinked symptoms—an inflammatory arthritis of large joints, inflammation of the eyes (conjunctivitis and uveitis) and urethritis. It is also known as arthritis urethritica, venereal arthritis, seronegative spondyloarthropathy, Reiter's , polyarteritis enterica.
Reactive arthritis is a seronegative, HLA-B27-linked spondyloarthropathy (autoimmune damage to the cartilages of joints) often precipitated by genitourinary or gastrointestinal infections. It is more common in men than in women and more common in white men than in black men. People with HIV have an increased risk of developing Reactive arthritis as well.
It is set off by a preceding infection, the most common of which would be a genital infection with Chlamydia trachomatis. Other bacteria known to cause Reactive arthritis are gonococcus and Ureaplasma urealyticum. A bout of food poisoning by enteric bacteria such as Salmonella, Shigella, Yersinia, or Campylobacter, or a gastrointestinal infection such as Crohn's disease may also set off Reactive arthritis. Reactive Arthritis usually manifests about 1-3 weeks after a known infection.
Signs and symptoms
Symptoms generally appear within 1-3 weeks but can range from 4-35 days from onset of inciting episode of disease.
The classical presentation is that the first symptom experienced is a urinary symptom such as burning pain on urination (dysuria) or an increased need to urinate (polyuria or frequency). Other urogenital problems may arise such as prostatitis in men, and cervicitis, salpingitis and/or vulvovaginitis in women.
The arthritis that follows usually affects the large joints such as the knees causing pain and swelling with relative sparing of small joints such as the wrist and hand.
Eye involvement occurs in about 50% of men with urogenital Reactive Arthritis and about 75% of men with enteric Reactive Arthritis. Conjunctivitis and uveitis can cause redness of the eyes, eye pain and irritation, and blurred vision. Eye involvement typically occurs early in the course of Reactive Arthritis, and symptoms may come and go.
Roughly 20 to 40 percent of men with Reactive Arthritis develop penile lesions called balanitis circinata on the end of the penis. A small percentage of men and women develop small hard nodules called keratoderma blennorrhagica on the soles of the feet, and less often on the palms of the hands or elsewhere. In addition, some people with Reactive Arthritis develop mouth ulcers that come and go. In some cases, these ulcers are painless and go unnoticed.
About 10 percent of people with Reactive Arthritis, especially those with prolonged disease, will develop cardiac manifestations including aortic regurgitation and pericarditis.
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