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What Are the Different Types of Reactive Arthritis Treatment?

By Marlene Garcia
Updated May 17, 2024
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Reactive arthritis treatment ranges from non-steroidal drugs to medications that suppress the immune system. In some patients, steroid injections or topical creams might ease pain and inflammation. Doctors commonly advise a combination of these drugs with antibiotics as an effective reactive arthritis treatment. Some patients recover from the condition after taking tumor necrosis factor inhibitors (TNFIs), which regulate how the body responds to inflammation.

The most common reactive arthritis treatment involves the use of non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin and prescription drugs. NSAIDs block release of the chemical that triggers pain and inflammation. Several types of these drugs exist and work differently on different people. They may cause stomach bleeding in some people.

When NSAIDs prove ineffective, a doctor might recommend corticosteroid shots into the affected joint. This form of reactive arthritis treatment typically includes three injections to ease severe pain. Corticosteroid creams and lotions applied to the joint might also help ease inflammation and heal any sores that develop.

Most cases of reactive arthritis stem from chlamydia, a bacterium that enters the body through sexual contact. The body’s immune system reacts to fight the foreign substance, causing swelling, pain, and redness in joints. Doctors commonly advise antibiotic reactive arthritis treatment to attack the bacteria causing symptoms. Immunosuppressive drugs usually represent a last resort when all other forms of treatment fail.

When chlamydia causes joint pain, symptoms typically appear in the urogential tract and are spread by sexual contact with an infected person. Men might notice a discharge from the penis or a painless ulcer on its tip. The prostate might become inflamed, leading to frequent urination that burns. In women, the infection might arise in the fallopian tubes, cervix, urethra, or vagina. Men and women typically develop pain in the feet, ankles, and knees when tendons surrounding these joints become irritated.

Other symptoms appear in the eyes, which might become red and painful. Some patients report blurred vision as a symptom of the disorder. Rarely, patients notice bumps on the palms of their hands and soles of their feet. Ulcers might also appear in the mouth, but generally go unnoticed because they produce no pain.

The disorder might also affect the intestinal tract after eating tainted food or handling meat improperly. Salmonella is one of several types of bacteria linked to reactive arthritis causing joint pain. Gastrointestinal infection sparking the disorder is treated with drugs and is not contagious.

Some doctors recommend exercise as reactive arthritis treatment to strengthen muscles supporting joints. Exercise might reduce stiffness and pain in some patients. Swimming and water aerobics might be particularly effective because these exercises can be done without placing stress on joints.

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