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Reactive Arthritis


Reactive arthritis is a form of inflammatory arthritis that is triggered by an infection elsewhere in the body, usually the intestines, urinary tract, or genitals. If you develop arthritis with in one month of developing diarrhea or a genital infection, you may have reactive arthritis.

Susan A. Baker, MD, FACR is an expert rheumatologist in the Los Angeles area who specializes in the treatment of reactive arthritis and other diseases of the connective tissue and musculoskeletal system. Dr. Baker is truly considered to be an expert in her field and has extensive experience in treating individuals with reactive arthritis. From her Beverly Hills practice, Dr. Baker is able to provide comprehensive, individualized treatment for reactive arthritis and related disorders.

What is Reactive Arthritis?

Reactive arthritis is typically caused by bacteria in the genitals from a sexually transmitted disease, such as Chlamydia, or by bacteria in the bowels from Campylobacter or Salmonella. These foreign bacteria prevent the body’s immune system from functioning properly, causing reactive arthritis. Some cases of reactive arthritis require no treatment, however, individuals with prolonged or especially severe symptoms should consult a rheumatologist or internal medicine specialist as soon as possible to prevent permanent joint damage. The most common symptoms associated with reactive arthritis include :

  • Pain and swelling of the joints, especially the knees and/or ankles
  • Swelling and pain in the heels
  • Excessive swelling of the fingers and toes, also known as “sausage” fingers
  • Persistent lower back pain the worsens at night or in the morning
  • Eye redness and irritation

The above-listed symptoms usually present alongside symptoms of the underlying infection such as diarrhea or puss discharge from the urethra. If you are experiencing any of the listed symptoms of reactive arthritis, be sure to contact an arthritis specialist and discover a treatment plan that will ease your physical pain and distress.

Treatments for Reactive Arthritis

Symptoms stemming from reactive arthritis can be safely and effectively managed with oral medications. The type of medication used to treat reactive arthritis depends on the stage of the condition.

  • Treatment for early stage reactive arthritis – Acute, or early inflammation can often be effectively treated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs. NSAIDs work by suppressing swelling and reducing pain. These medications can be found over-the-counter such as naproxen (Aleve) or prescribed by your physician. The type of medication and dosage varies from patient to patient, so be sure to consult your rheumatologist about what will be most beneficial for you.
  • Treatment for late stage reactive arthritis – Chronic reactive arthritis typically requires the use of disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs, or DMARDs such as sulfasalazine or methotrexate.

In addition to the above medications, corticosteroid injections can help to decrease swelling and pain in individuals with chronic and severe reactive arthritis. If you are considering treatment for reactive arthritis, consult your physician about which course of treatment may be best suited for you.

To learn more about reactive arthritis treatment, visit

Reactive Arthritis FAQs

Q: How do I know if I have reactive arthritis?

A: If you have pain, swelling, or stiffness in one or more joints in the month following a bowel or genital infection, you may have reactive arthritis. It is always best to consult a rheumatologist quickly to avoid unnecessary suffering and incurring any permanent joint damage.

Q: What is reactive syndrome?

A: Reiter’s syndrome is a specific type of reactive arthritis that tends to be associated symptoms surrounding the eyes and urethra among other joints.

Q: How is reactive arthritis diagnosed?

A: During a consultation, your rheumatologist may ask for a complete medical history, take some X Raysdraw blood, and test you for infections. All of these tools will help your physician properly diagnose and treat your condition.

Contact Beverly Hills Rheumatologist Today

Susan A. Baker, MD, FACR is considered an expert in the field of arthritis diagnosis and treatment. Dr. Baker has helped countless individuals suffering from reactive arthritis and diseases of the musculoskeletal system and connective tissue manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Baker in the Los Angeles area, call (310) 274-7770 at your earliest convenience.

Next, learn more about inflammatory bowel arthritis.