If you experience pain and swelling in your joints after an infection, you may have arthritis. This form of arthritis causes inflammation and sometimes severe pain in the knees, ankles and feet, but it can also affect the heels, toes, back and fingers.
Treatment isn’t typically necessary except in severe or persistent cases. If the underlying infection that caused the reactive arthritis is still present or reoccurs, it will need to be treated.
Some research points to this disease being an autoimmune disorder. In the case of arthritis, it may be caused by the immune system continuing to fight even after an infection is gone, according to Harvard Medical School.
Conventional arthritis, or Reiter’s syndrome, treatment includes over-the-counter NSAIDs to relieve inflammation and reduce pain. More severe cases may require more aggressive treatment. Fortunately, there are natural remedies to help manage symptoms and improve the overall quality of life. (1)
What Is Arthritis?
Arthritis causes inflammation, swelling and pain in the joints. Knees, ankles and the feet are the joints most often affected.
Caused by an infection, arthritis is not contagious, but if the underlying infection is still active, the infection itself may be contagious.
Once referred to as Reiter’s disease or Reiter’s syndrome, this inflammatory form of arthritis now belongs to a particular arthritis group called “spondyloarthritis.” Arthritis in this group causes inflammation, pain, stiffness and sometimes deformities of the spine. Under this classification, axial spondyloarthritis, peripheral spondyloarthritis, psoriatic arthritis and enteropathic arthritis are included along with reactive arthritis.
When arthritis, urethritis and conjunctivitis occur concurrently, it is referred to as the Reiter’s syndrome triad. In addition to the joint pain, infection in the eye and infection in the urethra (urethritis), the disease may manifest on the skin. Lesions, pus-filled sores and rashes are possible.
Reiter’s syndrome in women is less common, accounting for approximately one-fifth of the cases. In addition to adults, children have been diagnosed, but this is considered rare.
Signs & Symptoms
Symptoms, and their severity, can vary quite widely from person to person and depending upon the stage of the infection. If you experience any of the following symptoms one to four weeks after an infection, you may have reactive arthritis.