Causes of Reactive Arthritis

While the exact reactive arthritis causes are unknown, certain factors have been linked to the condition. For example, this form of arthritis is known to occur following certain types of infections. There may also be a genetic component to reactive arthritis; approximately 80 percent of people with the condition test positive for a genetic factor called HLA-B27.

What Causes Reactive Arthritis?

Scientists and doctors do not know the exact cause or causes of reactive arthritis (also known as Reiter's syndrome). They do know that the condition can occur following an infection in the digestive tract or urogenital tract. It also is more likely that genetics plays a role. However, research scientists still do not understand why one person can develop the disease while another does not.

Urogential Tract Infections

In many people, reactive arthritis is causes by an infection in the bladder, the urethra, or, in women, the vagina (the urogenital tract). This form of the disorder is sometimes called genitourinary or urogenital reactive arthritis.
Reactive arthritis typically begins about one to three weeks after infection. The infection is often with a sexually transmitted disease (STD). The bacterium most often associated with reactive arthritis is Chlamydia trachomatis, commonly known simply as Chlamydia. Some evidence also shows that gonorrhea or respiratory infections with Chlamydia pneumoniae may cause reactive arthritis.

Digestive Tract Infections

Another form of reactive arthritis is caused by an infection in the intestinal tract. This form of arthritis is sometimes called enteric or gastrointestinal reactive arthritis.
Infections in the digestive tract that may trigger reactive arthritis include:
  • Salmonella
  • Shigella
  • Yersinia
  • Campylobacter.
People may become infected with these bacteria after eating or handling improperly prepared food, such as meats that are not stored at the proper temperature.
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Reactive Arthritis Information

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