What is reactive arthritis?
Sometimes, a bacterial infection in your gut or urinary tract, can trigger a chronic inflammatory arthritis known as reactive arthritis, previously called Reiter’s syndrome. Reactive arthritis usually affects the knees, ankles, and feet but can also affect the eyes & skin. The bacterial infection that causes this type of arthritis is usually contracted from contaminated food, leading to gastrointestinal infection. Sexual transmission, and particularly infection with chlamydia, may also lead to reactive arthritis. Reactive arthritis itself is not contagious, but the bacteria that causes the inflammatory response can spread from person to person through sex or contaminated food.
Who can develop reactive arthritis?
Men typically are more prone than women to developing reactive arthritis caused by a sexually transmitted infection. However, men and women can develop this type of arthritis equally when it involves contaminated food. Younger men, age 20-40, are impacted more frequently due to increased sexual activity in this age range. Individuals who carry a gene called HLA-B27 and people infected with HIV may be more prone to developing reactive arthritis.
What areas are affected by reactive arthritis?
Reactive arthritis typically involves the lower back and joints of the lower extremities and can have overlapping features with other forms of axial spondyloarthritis conditions like ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease associated arthritis.