Reiters Syndrome

...less medical jargon in a 'Quick Glance' format!

Reiters Syndrome is a disorder that causes three seemingly unrelated symptoms: arthritis, redness of the eyes, and urinary tract signs.

Doctors sometimes refer to Reiter's syndrome as a seronegative spondyloarthropathy because it is one of a group of disorders that cause inflammation throughout the body, particularly in parts of the spine and at other joints where tendons attach to bones. Inflammation is a characteristic reaction of tissues to injury or disease and is marked by four signs: swelling, redness, heat, and pain.

Reiter's syndrome is also referred to as reactive arthritis, which means that the arthritis occurs as a "reaction" to an infection that started elsewhere in the body. The infection is most commonly passed from one person to another by sexual intercourse.


  • Pain, swelling and stiffness in the joints
  • Skin rashes
  • Swelling of fingers and toes
  • Thickened fingernails & toenails
  • Fever and chills
  • Inflammation of the eye
  • Inflammation where the tendon attaches to the bone
  • Inflammation & pain in the lower back or pelvic area
  • Inflammation of the bladder or urinary tract
  • Genital sores & blisters

When a preceding infection is recognized, symptoms of Reiter's syndrome appear about 1 to 3 weeks after the infection. Chlamydia trachomatis is the bacteria most often associated with Reiter's syndrome acquired through sexual contact. Several different bacteria are associated with Reiter's syndrome acquired through the digestive tract, including Salmonella, Shigella, Yersinia, and Campylobacter. People may become infected with these bacteria after eating or handling improperly prepared food.

Doctors do not know exactly why some people exposed to these bacteria develop the disorder and others do not, but they have identified a genetic factor HLA-B27 that increases a person's chance of developing Reiter's syndrome. About 80 percent of people with Reiter's syndrome are HLA-B27 positive. Only 6 percent of people who do not have the syndrome have the HLA-B27 gene.

Although there is no cure for Reiters syndrome, treatments that effectively relieve the symptoms are available. Many symptoms may even disappear for long periods of time.
  • Bed rest -- Short periods of bed rest are sometimes effective in reducing the pain and inflammation of arthritis. Lying down can reduce the pressure of the body's weight on a painful joint and provide relief for some patients.
  • Exercise -- Even before symptoms disappear, some strengthening and gentle range-of-motion exercises will maintain or improve joint function.
  • Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAID's) -- This type of medicine effectively reduces joint inflammation and is commonly used to treat patients with Reiter's syndrome.
  • Corticosteroid Injections -- For people with severe joint inflammation, injections of corticosteroids directly into the affected joint may effectively reduce inflammation.
  • Topical Corticosteroids -- This type of medicine can be put directly on the skin lesions associated with Reiter's syndrome.
  • Antibiotics -- Antibiotics may be prescribed to eliminate the bacterial infection that triggered Reiter's syndrome.
  • Immunosuppressive Medicines -- A small percentage of patients with Reiters syndrome have severe symptoms that cannot be controlled with the treatments described earlier. For these people, medicine that suppresses the immune system

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...less medical jargon in a 'Quick Glance' format!