What is Reactive Arthritis
Reactive arthritis is the joint pains caused due to an infection at some other place or in some other system of the body. Reactive arthritis is seen mostly when there is some infection in the gastrointestinal tract or urinary tract, which also affects joints causing it to swell. Most commonly affected joints are the knees, ankles, and toes.
The inflammation may also affect the eyes, skin, and urethra along with the joints. This is called as Reiter’s disease.
It affects males between the age group of 20-40years.
Symptoms of Reactive Arthritis
The symptoms of reactive arthritis are seen after few weeks of exposure to an infection.
The first symptoms of reactive arthritis are painful urination and an abnormal discharge from the penis if the urethra is affected. There is diarrhea if the intestines are affected. These symptoms of infection of the intestines or urinary tract are then followed after 2-3 weeks by joint pains.
Reactive arthritis affects mostly the hip joint, knees, ankles, fingers or toes. All the joints are not affected at the same time. Few of these joints may be affected.
The symptoms are:
- Pain and stiffness of the affected joints
- Swelling of toes and fingers occasionally
- Back pain due to the involvement of sacroiliac joint
- Pain and inflammation at the sites where the tendons and ligaments insert into the bones (enthesitis).
- Scaling of the skin over the palms, soles, trunk, and scalp.
- Inflammation and redness of the eyes (conjunctivitis).
- Increased frequency and pain during urination.
Causes of Reactive Arthritis
Reactive arthritis is caused by a bacterial infection of the gastrointestinal tract or urinary tract. The symptoms of these infections may go unnoticed as they are mild and do not cause much discomfort to the patient.
Many bacteria can cause reactive arthritis. The common ones that are mostly responsible for it are:
Diagnosis of Reactive Arthritis
It is difficult to diagnose reactive arthritis as the symptoms are seen after 2-3 weeks of an infection. There is the considerable time period between the two events and the patient or doctor may fail to relate the occurrence of both.
The diagnosis can be easily made if the patient has an eye infection or an intestinal infection together with or shortly followed by the symptoms of arthritis.
The physical examination includes:
- Checking for signs of inflammation like swelling, warmth, and tenderness.
- The range of movement of all the affected joints to check for stiffness if any.
- Checking of eyes for the signs of conjunctivitis
- Thorough examination of the skin to check for any rash
Blood tests are done to check for infection in the body, to check for the presence of antibodies which are associated with certain types of arthritis and to check for the signs of inflammation.
Joint fluid analysis is done by extracting some amount of joint fluid to check for:
- Any WBC which suggests the presence of inflammation or infection in the joint
- Any bacteria which show that the patient is having septic arthritis and it can lead to severe joint damage in the future.
- Any uric acid crystals suggest that the person is suffering from gout.
X-rays to check for the level of joint damage if any and to rule out other forms of arthritis.
Homoeopathic Management of Reactive Arthritis
Homoeopathic medicines will help to so then the joint pains and also treat the main cause of the disease. Also, the suppressed old diseases and other resulting systemic symptoms will be taken care of with homeopathy medicines.
- Rheumatism from checked diarrhea
- Painful joints without swelling
- Unable to move the limbs
- Emaciation of lower limbs
- Ankles and wrist affected
- Pricking pains
- Joint pains alternating with dysentery
- Stiffness, swelling and joint pains
- Wandering pains
- Joint pains alternating with dysentery
- Offensive stools like rotten eggs with mucus in stool
- The person is afraid to bend the joints as he feels that the ligaments and tendons surrounding them will break
- Joint pains with diarrhea
- Worse morning
- Stiffness and pain in knee with burning in soles
- Joint paints with inflammation of urethra
- Increased frequency of uncontrollable urination
- Sharp cutting pain in urethra after micturition
- Joint pains after suppression of gonorrhea
- Stiffness of joint esp finger joints with burning in hands
- Inflammation of urethra with joint pains
- Pain in urethra during micturition
- Shifting type of joint pains
- Joint pains with chilliness
- Thick yellow discharges from urethra