Christopher Columbus, Part 3: How Does Reactive Arthritis Compare to Rheumatoid Arthritis?
What is Reactive Arthritis?
Reactive Arthritis is the modern name given to Reiter’s Syndrome. Apparently, the first name lost favor because Reiter was a Nazi. The name “reactive” refers to the fact that Reactive Arthritis occurs in reaction to an infection. It is also referred to as “post infectious” arthritis.
Usually Reactive Arthritis occurs as a triad of symptoms that includes eye inflammation, urethritis, and arthritis. The illness may last only a few weeks or become a chronic condition as it did for Columbus. It is triggered by a bacterial infection; suspected culprits include: salmonella, campylobacter, shigella, and Chlamydia. Reactive Arthritis may begin as enteric, which is intestinal in origin, or genitourinary, which is sexually transmitted.
Reactive Arthritis is a spondarthropathy
Reactive Arthritis is part of the same group of conditions as Ankylosing Spondylitis, Psoriatic Arthritis, and Crohn’s Disease. Patients are almost always seronegative for Rheumatoid factor and positive for a gene marker called HLA-B27. There are other commonalities: foot / heel pain, rashes / psoriasis symptoms, and axial skeleton arthritis which may lead to fused spine.
The gene difference is seen as a predisposition to this type of arthritis. However, an environmental trigger is required for the disease to commence.
How is Reactive Arthritis like Rheumatoid Arthritis?
- Joint and muscle pains
- Genetically linked autoimmune disease
- Typical pattern of flares and remissions
- Frequent fevers, morning stiffness, and fatigue
- Prognosis varies widely among patients
- Various other body systems may also experience inflammation
- Treated with these medications: NSAIDs, DMARDs, steroids, and Biologics
How is Reactive Arthritis different from Rheumatoid Arthritis?
- Can more often be “cured” with early treatment
- Is more common in men than women
- Typically involves urinary tract symptoms
- Much more rare than RA
- Occurs most frequently during the 30’s (slightly younger peak onset age)
Remarkable observations about Reactive Arthritis:
- Perhaps the mysterious onset of Reactive Arthritis is partially responsible for the stigma of autoimmune illnesses.
- Ironically, the original illness usually resolves before the Reactive Arthritis begins to flare.
- Reactive Arthritis itself is not contagious regardless of the initial infection.
- Many healthy people carry the HLA-B27 gene.
- Dr. Frank Arnett, rheumatologist and Columbus expert, says he would have treated Columbus with a TNF blocker like Enbrel. “Columbus should have been on one of these drugs. Who knows? It could have changed history.”
More information on Reactive Arthritis: About Reiter’s Syndrome , Reactive arthritis on MedicineNet
More on Columbus and Reactive Arthritis:
- What is Remission of Rheumatoid Arthritis? Part 1
- The Rheumatoid Arthritis Self-definition Fairy
- Rheumatoid Arthritis Makes Things Difficult
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