Reactive Arthritis (Formerly Reiter's Syndrome)

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

  • Medical Editor: Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP
    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Jerry R. Balentine, DO, FACEP

    Dr. Balentine received his undergraduate degree from McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. He attended medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine graduating in1983. He completed his internship at St. Joseph's Hospital in Philadelphia and his Emergency Medicine residency at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in the Bronx, where he served as chief resident.

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What is the prognosis of reactive arthritis?

The outlook for reactive arthritis is generally very good. Today, there are many effective treatments. The outlook is best when the disease is diagnosed and treated aggressively early on. When a specific cause is identified and eradicated, it is sometimes possible to completely cure reactive arthritis. Complications, such as eye, skin, or prostate disease, can require comanagement with appropriate specialists, including ophthalmologists, dermatologists, and urologists as well as rheumatologists.

Is it possible to prevent reactive arthritis?

Yes. Reactive arthritis can be prevented, to some extent, by avoiding sexual infection and by storing food properly and cooking it properly.

What does the future hold for reactive arthritis?

In the future, new medications will be developed that are more specific in the treatment of reactive arthritis. Trials with long-term antibiotic treatment are under way, and it is possible that these may be especially effective in reactive arthritis that is associated with chlamydia infection.

The TNF-blockers, such as etanercept (Enbrel) and infliximab (Remicade), have potential for treating severe, resistant reactive arthritis. These drugs may improve both the joint and non-joint areas of inflammation. Further studies of these drugs are under way.

For further information about reactive arthritis, please visit the following site: Arthritis Foundation.

You can also contact:

The Arthritis Foundation
P.O. Box 19000
Atlanta, Georgia 30326
or contact your local chapter

National Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases Clearinghouse
Box AMS
Bethesda, Maryland 20892
301-495-4484

REFERENCES:

Fauci, A.S., and C.A. Langford. Harrison's Rheumatology. New York: McGraw-Hill Medical Publishing, 2006.

Koopman, William, et al., eds. Clinical Primer of Rheumatology. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2003.

Ruddy, Shaun, et al., eds. Kelley's Textbook of Rheumatology. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Co., 2000.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/2/2015

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