Corticosteroids and Other Drugs Used for Reactive Arthritis

Corticosteroid Injections
For people with severe joint inflammation, injections of corticosteroids directly into the affected joint may reduce inflammation. Doctors usually prescribe these injections only after trying unsuccessfully to treat reactive arthritis with NSAIDs.
 
Topical Corticosteroids
These corticosteroids come in a cream or lotion and can be applied directly on the skin lesions, such as ulcers, associated with reactive arthritis. Topical corticosteroids reduce inflammation and promote healing.
 
Antibiotics
The doctor may prescribe antibiotics to eliminate the bacterial infection that triggered reactive arthritis. The specific antibiotic prescribed depends on the type of bacterial infection present. For example, for Chlamydia-induced reactive arthritis, your healthcare provider may prescribe doxycycline. Antibiotics have not been shown to be as effective in treating reactive arthritis caused by an infection in the digestive tract.
 
It is important to follow instructions about how much medicine to take and for how long; otherwise, the infection may persist. Typically, an antibiotic is taken for seven to ten days or longer. Some doctors may recommend a person with reactive arthritis take antibiotics for a long period of time (up to three months). Current arthritis research shows that, in most cases, this practice is necessary.
 
Immunosuppressive Medicines
A small percentage of people with reactive arthritis have severe symptoms that cannot be controlled with any of the previously mentioned treatments. For these people, medicine that suppresses the immune system may be effective. Examples of immunosuppressive medicines used as reactive arthritis treatment include:
 
TNF Inhibitors
Several relatively new treatments that suppress tumor necrosis factor (TNF), a protein involved in the body's inflammatory response, may be effective for reactive arthritis and other spondyloarthropathies. They include:
 
These reactive arthritis treatments were first used to treat rheumatoid arthritis.
 
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Reactive Arthritis Information

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