Reactive arthritis is a condition that causes inflammation, pain and swelling of the joints. It usually develops after an infection, often in the bowel or genital areas.
The normal role of your body’s immune system is to fight off infections to keep you healthy. In some people this activity of the immune
system causes joints to become inflamed, however the joints themselves are not actually infected. About one in 10 people with specific
types of infections will get reactive arthritis.
Symptoms can affect many parts of the body and commonly include:
About one in 10 people with specific types of infections will get reactive arthritis. The most common types of theses infections are:
It is not known why some people who get these infections develop reactive arthritis and others do not.
Reactive arthritis can by diagnosed by your doctor from your symptoms and physical examination.
For most people reactive arthritis disappears completely with time and causes no permanent joint problems. The majority of people will recover completely within three to 12 months.
During this time symptoms may be worse some days and better on other. Most people need some form of treatment, usually medicines, while symptoms are present.
About one in five people need long-term treatment as their arthritis does not improve or returns.
Treatment for reactive arthritis will depend on the exact symptoms and the severity of the condition. Treatments may include:
Researchers are looking into new ways of diagnosing, treating and managing spondyloarthropathy (a family of diseases which includes reactive arthritis). Learn more about some of the research projects we support here.