sometimes referred to as Reiters Disease or Rider's type
of arthritis, is a
form of arthritis that occurs as a reaction to infection
elsewhere in the body.
In some patients, Reiters
disease is triggered by a
venereal infection that is often transmitted through
sexual contact. People may also become infected with Reiters
disease-causing bacteria from eating or
handling improperly prepared food, such as meats that
are not stored at the proper temperature.
Overall, men between the ages of 20 and 40 are most
likely to develop Reiter's syndrome. Men are nine times
more likely than women to develop Reiters syndrome due
to venereally acquired infections but women and men are
equally likely to develop Reiters syndrome as a result
of food-borne infections. Women with Reiters syndrome
typically often have milder symptoms than men.
(Rider's type of arthritis) typically begins about one to three weeks after
infection. Symptoms of Reiters syndrome usually last
three to 12 months, though in a small percentage of
people the symptoms can return or develop into a
long-term disease. Most people with Reiter's syndrome
recover fully from the initial flare of symptoms and are
able to return to regular activities 2 to 6 months after
the first symptoms appear.
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Reiters syndrome itself is not contagious but the
bacteria that can trigger Reiters syndrome can be passed
from person to person. It is not understood exactly why
some people exposed to Reiters syndrome-causing bacteria
develop Reiters syndrome and others do not, but
scientists have identified a genetic factor that
increases a person's chance of developing Reiters
Reiters disease is associated with three symptom
Reiters syndrome often affects the urogenital tract,
including the prostate in men and the vagina in women.
Men may notice an increased need to urinate, a burning
sensation when urinating, and a fluid discharge from the
penis. Some men with Reiter's syndrome develop
inflammation of the prostate gland.
Women with Reiters syndrome may develop problems in the
urogenital tract, such as inflammation of the cervix or
inflammation of the urethra, which can cause a burning
sensation during urination.
The arthritis associated with Reiters syndrome typically
involves pain and swelling in the knees, ankles, and
feet. Wrists, fingers, and other joints are affected
less often. People with Reiter's syndrome commonly
develop tendonitis which results in heel pain or
irritation of the Achilles tendon at the back of the
ankle. Some people with Reiters syndrome also develop
heel spurs. Approximately half of people with Reiter's
syndrome report low-back pain. Reiters syndrome also can
cause spondylitis or sacroiliitis.
Conjunctivitis develops in approximately half of people
with Reiter's syndrome. Conjunctivitis can cause redness
of the eyes, eye pain and irritation, and blurred
vision. Eye involvement typically occurs early in the
course of Reiter's syndrome.
There is no specific laboratory test to confirm Reiters
syndrome so diagnosis can be difficult. During the
diagnostic exam, the doctor will likely take a complete
medical history and note current symptoms as well as any
previous medical problems or infections. The doctor may
use various blood tests to help rule out other
conditions and confirm a suspected diagnosis of Reiters
syndrome. The doctor also is likely to perform tests for
infections that might be associated with Reiters
syndrome. Doctors sometimes use x-rays to help diagnose
Reiter's syndrome and to rule out other causes of
Although there is no cure for Reiters syndrome, some
treatments relieve symptoms of the disorder.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) reduce
joint inflammation and are commonly used to treat
patients with Reiters syndrome.
The doctor may prescribe antibiotics to eliminate the
bacterial infection that triggered Reiters syndrome. The
specific antibiotic prescribed depends on the type of
bacterial infection present.
A small percentage of patients with Reiters syndrome
have severe symptoms that cannot be controlled with any
of the above treatments. For these people, medicine that
suppresses the immune system may be effective.
Several relatively new treatments that suppress tumor
necrosis factor (TNF), a protein involved in the body's
inflammatory response, may be effective for reactive
arthritis. These treatments were first used to treat
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