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Symptoms of Reactive Arthritis

Although reactive arthritis itself is not contagious, the bacteria that trigger it can be passed from one individual to another. Most people who develop ReA will begin having symptoms a few weeks after the initial bacterial infection. Many will recover from ReA after the first flare, but the disease does have a tendency to recur.

The symptoms of reactive arthritis can affect many areas of the body, but most typically affect the urogenital tract, the joints, and the eyes. Other, less common symptoms include mouth ulcers and skin rashes. 

Symptoms List

  • Pain, swelling, and stiffness in the joints, including the knees, ankles, and feet.
  • Skin rashes that commonly appear as thickened red or brown spots, including scaling rashes on the palms of the hands or soles of the feet.
  • Involved fingers and toes that often swell, causing so-called "sausage digits."
  • Fingernails and toenails that may become thickened and crumble as if infected by fungus.
  • Fever and chills.
  • Inflammation of the eye (conjunctivitis, uveitis, or iritis) that can cause redness, pain, sensitivity to light, and skewed vision.
  • Enthesitis, inflammation where tendons attach to bone.
  • Inflammation and pain in the lower back or pelvic area.
  • Cystitis, which is inflammation of the bladder or urinary tract, causing frequent urination and a burning sensation when urinating.
  • Genital sores appearing on the shaft of the penis or scrotum or, in women, on the external areas of the genitals. These are usually blisters that break open and crust over. Although they heal without scarring, these blisters can be a source of great anxiety in people with ReA.

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