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Reactive Arthritis and Reiter Syndrome Page 2
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Reactive arthritis (ReA)
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Joint Inflammation


The goal of treatment is to manage your symptoms and treat any underlying bacterial infections that may still be present.

Your doctor may recommend one or more of the following medications:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). NSAIDs can relieve the inflammation and pain of reactive arthritis. Some, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) and aspirin, are available without a prescription. Indomethacin (Indocin) and tolmetin (Tolectin) may be more effective, but require a prescription.

  • Corticosteroids. These medications can suppress inflammation in your joints. If only a few of your joints are severely inflamed, an injection of a corticosteroid into each affected joint can reduce inflammation and allow you to return to your normal activity level. If many of your joints are inflamed, your doctor may prescribe oral corticosteroids, such as prednisone (Deltasone). Long-term use of corticosteroids can be associated with many side effects and complications.

  • Corticosteroids in the form of lotions (topical corticosteroids) can relieve inflammation and promote healing in skin rash.

  • Antibiotics. Your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic to eliminate the bacterial infection that triggered your reactive arthritis if it's still detectable in your body. Which antibiotic you take depends on the specific bacteria that are present.

  • Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blockers. TNF is a cytokine, or cell protein, that acts as an inflammatory agent in rheumatoid arthritis. TNF blockers target or block this protein and can help relieve pain and stiffness, and improve tender or swollen joints. Doctors initially used TNF blockers to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Preliminary studies suggest that these medications, such as etanercept (Enbrel) and infliximab (Remicade), can decrease inflammation and improve pain and stiffness for some people with reactive arthritis.

Physical therapy

Exercise can help people with arthritis improve joint function. Your doctor may have you meet with a physical therapist, who can provide you with specific exercises for your joints and muscles.

Strengthening exercises are valuable for developing the muscles around your affected joints, which increases the joint's support. Performing range-of-motion exercises can increase your joints' flexibility and reduce stiffness.


Genetic factors appear to play a role in whether you're likely to develop reactive arthritis. Though you can't change your genetic makeup, you can reduce your exposure to the bacteria that may lead to reactive arthritis.

Make sure your food is stored at proper temperatures and is cooked properly. These steps can help you to avoid the many food-borne bacteria that can cause reactive arthritis, including salmonella, shigella, yersinia and campylobacter.

In addition, practice safe sex because preventing sexually transmitted diseases may lower your risk of developing reactive arthritis.

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