Reactive Arthritis Symptoms

Joint pain, fever, and muscle aches are some of the common signs and symptoms of reactive arthritis. These symptoms usually come and go over a period of several weeks to several months. Symptoms of this condition will vary; some people may experience only mild symptoms, while others may have symptoms that are quite painful. Approximately half of the people with reactive arthritis report low-back and buttock pain.

An Overview of Reactive Arthritis Symptoms and Signs

Symptoms of reactive arthritis typically begin about one to three weeks after a specific type of infection (see Causes of Reactive Arthritis). How severe these symptoms are will vary, depending on the situation. Symptoms can be mild, with only minor pain and swelling in one joint. In more severe cases, many joints are affected, along with other organs.
 
Common areas affected by reactive arthritis include:
 
  • Joints
  • Urogenital tract
  • Eyes.
     
It is also common for a person with reactive arthritis to experience:
 
  • Fever
  • Excessive tiredness
  • Muscle aches or pain
  • Weight loss.
 
Less common symptoms include mouth ulcers and skin rashes.
 
Reactive arthritis symptoms usually come and go over a period of several weeks to several months.
 

Symptoms of Reactive Arthritis Affecting the Joints

Reactive arthritis typically involves pain and swelling in one or several of the following joints:
 
  • Knees
  • Ankles
  • Feet.
     
Joint-related symptoms of reactive arthritis tend to be painful. Wrists, fingers, and other joints are affected less often. However, a classic sign of reactive arthritis is a "sausage digit." A sausage digit refers to swelling of a single finger or toe (this is also common with psoriatic arthritis).
 
People with reactive arthritis commonly develop inflammation of the tendons (tendonitis) or at places where tendons attach to the bone (enthesitis). In many people with reactive arthritis, this results in heel pain or irritation of the Achilles tendon at the back of the ankle.
 
Some people with reactive arthritis also develop heel spurs, which are bony growths in the heel that may cause chronic (long-lasting) foot pain. Approximately half of the people with reactive arthritis report low-back and buttock pain.
 
Reactive arthritis also can cause spondylitis (inflammation of the vertebrae in the spinal column) or sacroiliitis (inflammation of the joints in the lower back that connect the spine to the pelvis). In these people, reactive arthritis symptoms may include back pain or neck pain. People with reactive arthritis who have the HLA-B27 gene are even more likely to develop spondylitis and/or sacroiliitis.
 
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Reactive Arthritis Information

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