Reactive arthritis is formerly known as Reiter’s syndrome, which is a systemic rheumatic disease that could occur after exposure to bacteria. The most common symptoms include inflammation of larger joints in the body, as well as eye inflammation.
The disease is more common among adults in their thirties and forties, but the disease could occur at any age. In order to find a good treatment option, the patient must consult a specialist to determine whether this is the exact type of arthritis that he has.
Reactive arthritis shares symptoms with other arthritic types like inflammation in the spine area, which is also present in patients with psoriatic arthritis.
While the primary organs vulnerable to this type of arthritis are the joints, inflammation in delicate tissues of the eyes has been considered a characteristic symptom of reactive arthritis and has become a basis for distinguishing this disease from all other arthritis types. Another symptom to look out for is the inflammation of the genital area and malfunction in the urinary system.
This particular type of arthritis is considered reactive because the immune system responds to the presence of bacteria in genital and gastrointestinal systems.
When the bacteria are not dealt with immediately, the antibodies trying to defend the body from these pathogens may constantly be mobilized until even the joints and other tissues are affected by the inflammation. In some people, abnormal immune system responses start cropping up when certain bacterial species invade the gut and the excretory system.
The prevailing theory is that this type of arthritis is genetic in nature. This disease occurs more frequently in patients with the HLA-B27 gene, a marker for most arthritis types. In this case, it is suggested that a person genetically predisposed to other arthritis types is more likely to contract reactive arthritis should he or she be exposed to a pathogen that causes this disease.
When patients with the genetic background of reactive arthritis are exposed to bacteria, there is likelihood that they will develop symptoms of reactive arthritis in the future. Certain infections are required for the onset of reactive arthritis.
Reactive arthritis may be present in individuals that suffered and survived from venereal infections in the past. Venereal diseases are those that are passed on from person to person through sexual contact. The bacteria Chlamydia trachomatis may play a big role in the onset of reactive arthritis.
Reactive arthritis may also occur after dysentery, particularly when bacterial organisms have reached the bowels. The following bacteria are typically indicated Salmonella, Shigella, Yersinia, and Campylobacter. Symptoms may develop after a week or three weeks after exposure to these bacteria.
Like other arthritis types, knees, ankles and the appendages are the most vulnerable. The disease is often asymmetric, in that one joint is affected but the other joint is relatively free from inflammation and pain. Stiffness, pain and swelling may arise in the afflicted joint. The area around the joint may be warm to touch and tender. Patients may also experience inflamed fingers or toes, resulting in the swelling and reddening of the entire digit.