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