Debra Wood, RN
Reiter’s syndrome is an inflammatory reaction to an infection somewhere in the body. It usually follows an infection of the urinary, genital, or digestive tract. It is treated with rest and medication.
Reiter's syndrome is triggered by certain infections. It is usually caused by the bacterium
chlamydia. Chlamydia is transmitted through sexual contact with an infected partner. The infection can also begin in the digestive system. In these cases, the infection occurs after eating food tainted with bacteria.
Factors that may increase your chance of getting Reiter's syndrome include:
Symptoms occur in the joints, the eyes, the urinary tract, and genitals. Men and women may experience different symptoms. In rare cases, heart problems may develop later in the disease.
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Your doctor uses these findings to help make the diagnosis. There is no specific test to check for Reiter’s syndrome.
Your doctor may need to test your bodily fluids and tissues. This can be done with:
Your doctor may need pictures of your bodily structures. This can be done with
There is no cure for Reiter’s syndrome. Most people recover from the initial episode within 12 months. Others develop mild, chronic arthritis. Some suffer from additional episodes of the disorder.
Treatment aims to relieve symptoms and may include:
Short-term rest to take the strain off the joints.
Your doctor may prescribe some of the following:
To reduce your chance of Reiter's syndrome:
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases
Public Health Agency of Canada
The Arthritis Society
Questions and answers about reactive arthritis. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at:
http://www.niams.nih.gov/health_info/reactive_arthritis/default.asp. Updated October 2012. Accessed May 21, 2013.
Reactive arthritis. American College of Rheumatology website. Available at:
http://www.rheumatology.org/practice/clinical/patients/diseases_and_conditions/reactivearthritis.asp. Updated February 2013. Accessed May 21, 2013.
Reactive arthritis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated November 29, 2012. Accessed May 21, 2013.
Last reviewed December 2014 by David L. Horn, MD, FACP
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