Reactive arthritis is usually a relatively short-lived condition causing painful inflammation (heat, pain and swelling) in the joints. It develops shortly after an infection of the bowel or genital tract or, less frequently, after a throat infection. It may last for up to 6 months and in most cases disappears completely, causing no problems in the future.
Physical therapy, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and intralesional corticosteroids may be helpful for joint, tendon, and fascial inflammation. Phenylbutazone may be effective when other NSAIDs fail. Low-dose prednisone may be prescribed, but prolonged treatment is not advisable. Antibiotics may be given to treat underlying infection, and disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) such as sulfasalazine and methotrexate may be used safely and are often beneficial. No specific surgical treatment is indicated.
An estimated 1-3% of all patients with a nonspecific urethritis develop an episode of arthritis. The incidence is 1-4% after enteric infection. This number jumps to 20-25% after bacterial enteritis in HLA-B27-positive individuals. Prevalence of asymptomatic chlamydial infections, underdiagnosis, and underreporting may make the incidence even higher.It has been noted that worse functional capacity and higher disease activity are observed in the lower socioeconomic classes.