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Ankylosing Spondylitis & Related Diseases Information
Reactive Arthritis (ReA): Quick Links
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Seeing a rheumatologist is essential to beginning treatment of ReA, but a person may need to see several types of doctors in order to treat the possible complications associated with reactive arthritis: A gynecologist (for genital symptoms in women), a urologist (for genital symptoms in men and women), a dermatologist (skin), an ophthalmologist (eyes), and possibly an orthopedist (who performs surgery on severely damaged joints).

A treatment regimen for ReA involves medication, exercise, good posture practices, and other treatment options such as applying heat/cold to help relax muscles and reduce joint pain. In severe cases of ReA, surgery may also be an option in order to repair severely damaged joints.

A number of medications can be used to help treat the symptoms of ReA:

  • NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) to reduce the inflammation, joint pain and stiffness.

  • DMARDs (disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs) are sometimes prescribed in more severe cases. These include methotrexate and sulfasalazine.

  • Corticosteroid injections for severe pain and inflammation in a specific joint.

  • TNF-a inhibitors, a newer class of biologic medication, is sometimes prescribed off-label to those with severe ReA.
Although reactive arthritis is triggered by a bacterial infection, antibiotics have not been shown to be effective in treating ReA itself. According to Dr. Muhammad Asim Khan: "Antibiotics are not effective, although prolonged treatment (more than three months) of severe, persistent chlamydia-induced reactive arthritis with lymecycline provided some improvement in one study. Moreover, prompt and effective treatment of chlamydial infections reduced the risk of sexually acquired reactive arthritis in a Greenland Inuit population that had a high prevalence of both HLA-B27 and chlamydia infections."

Click here to learn more about the medications used in treating ReA.

Exercise & Other Management Tools
Exercise is essential. Exercise helps keep the muscles strong around a joint. Not using a sore joint will cause the muscles to become weak, thus resulting in more pain.

Other management tools include physical therapy, heat for stiffness, ice for swelling and surgery for those with severe joint damage. Click here for more information on exercise, alternative treatments and more in our Patient Resources section.

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