Reiters Syndrome

Reiter's syndrome, also known as reactive arthritis, is a type of joint pain and swelling caused by an infection in another part of the body, most commonly in the genitalia, urinary tract, or intestines.

Usually, the knees, ankles, and feet are affected by this condition. Inflammation can also impact the skin, eyes, and urine exit tube (urethra). It is rare to have reiter's syndrome. Most people's signs and symptoms come and go and disappear within a year.


The signs and symptoms of reiter's syndrome often appear 1–4 weeks after being exposed to a triggering infection. The symptoms include:

Pain and stiffness

The knees, ankles, and feet are the most usually affected by reactive arthritic joint discomfort. Pain in the heels and low back pain is also possible.

Eye inflammation

Many individuals with reiter's syndrome experience eye irritation (conjunctivitis).

Urinary problems

Urination may become more frequent and painful, and the prostate gland or cervix may become inflamed.

Inflammation of tendons and ligaments

This is most common in the heels and soles of the feet.

Swollen toes or fingers

In severe cases, fingers, and toes become so bloated that they resemble sausages.

Skin problems

Reiter's syndrome can cause skin problems such as mouth sores and a rash appearing on the hands' palms and the soles of the feet.

Low back pain

Low back pain: The pain is usually worse at night or early in the morning.

When to see a doctor?

Consult the doctor if you develop joint discomfort within a month of having diarrhea or genital infection.


Reiter's syndrome occurs due to an infection in the body, most commonly in the intestines, urinary tract, or genitals. Various bacterial infections can induce reiter's syndrome. Some are physically transmitted, while others are foodborne. Among the most common are:

  • Chlamydia
  • Campylobacter
  • Shigella
  • Clostridium difficile
  • Escherichia coli
  • Yersinia
  • Salmonella

The bacteria that cause it can be spread through contaminated food or intimate intercourse. Reiter's syndrome is rare among those who are exposed to these bacteria.

Risk factors

Reiter's syndrome risk factors include the following:


Adults aged 20 to 40 are most likely to have reiter's syndrome.


Reiter's syndrome is just as likely to occur in men and women after exposure to foodborne illnesses. But because of STIs, men are more prone than women to get reiter's syndrome.

Hereditary factors

Reiter's syndrome has been related to a specific genetic marker. However, the majority of those with this marker do not go on to experience the disease.


During the physical examination, the doctor will probably monitor the joints for warmth, soreness, and swelling, as well as measure the range of motion in the spine and the affected joints. The doctor may also examine the skin for rashes and the condition of the eyes for swelling.

Blood tests:

The doctor might advise having a blood test for the following conditions:

  • A genetic marker linked to reiter's syndrome.
  • Signs of inflammation
  • Evidence of past or current infection
  • Antibodies associated with other types of arthritis.

Joint fluid tests:

A needle may be used by your doctor to extract fluid from an afflicted joint. This fluid will be tested for the following:

  • White blood cell count: An increase in white blood cells could indicate inflammation or infection.
  • Infections: Bacterias in the joint fluid could be an indication of septic arthritis, which can cause serious joint damage.
  • Crystals: The presence of uric acid crystals in the joint fluid may be a sign of gout. This extremely painful kind of arthritis frequently affects the big toe.

Imaging tests:

X-rays of the low back, pelvis, and joints can reveal any musculoskeletal problems.


The purpose of treatment is to manage your symptoms while also treating any remaining infections.


If reiter's syndrome is caused by a bacterial infection, the doctor may give an antibiotic if the infection persists.

Reiter's syndrome symptoms can be alleviated by:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): Prescription NSAIDs, such as indomethacin, help alleviate the inflammation and pain associated with reiter's syndrome.
  • Steroids: A steroid injection into the afflicted joints can lessen inflammation and allow you to resume the basic exercises. Steroid eye drops and creams may be used to treat eye problems and skin rashes.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis drugs: Some individuals with reiter's syndrome may benefit from drugs such as sulfasalazine, methotrexate, or etanercept.

Physical therapy

A physical therapist can give patients specific exercises for the joints and muscles. Strengthening exercises improve joint support by strengthening the muscles surrounding the afflicted joints. Range-of-motion exercises can help the joints become more flexible and less stiff.

Reiter's Syndrome Do’s and Dont’s

Follow its do’s and don’ts to manage or minimize its symptoms.

Do’s Don’ts
Take medications on time Consume too much sugar
Reduce the intake of foods high in saturated fats. Consume alcohol and tobacco
Get plenty of rest Use affected joints to do any work
Participate in joint-friendly physical activities. Perform strenuous exercises
Apply heating pads to aching joints Take stress

Reiter's Syndrome Care at Medicover Hospitals

The Rheumatology Department of Medicover Hospital is in charge of the diagnosis and treatment of arthritis and other musculoskeletal diseases. Medicover Hospital offers specialist lab testing to diagnose numerous disorders, including reiter's syndrome, as well as cutting-edge imaging modalities such as CT, MRI, Ultrasound, etc.

Medicover Hospitals employs the best rheumatologists. The consultants are experts in their field, with years of experience and competence in dealing with any rheumatic emergency or complex case. The specialists give comprehensive therapy to all patients using a multidisciplinary approach.

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