Reactive Arthritis Diet and Treatment

Reactive arthritis is a relatively rare form of the disease but it is still a condition of inflammation. Learn the causes, symptoms, and prognosis of this form of arthritis as well as how nutrition can help manage it.

Reactive arthritis is a relatively rare form of arthritis – or inflammation of the joints – that is caused by an infection in another part of the body. The bacteria typically responsible for reactive arthritis usually come from sexually transmitted diseases such as Chlamydia, or improperly handled food contaminated with campylobacter, salmonella, shigella, or yersinia. Reactive arthritis may occur in children or adults, but not everyone exposed to these bacteria will develop reactive arthritis.

Reactive arthritis symptoms generally develop one to three weeks following exposure to the infection. Many of these symptoms are not typically seen in other types of arthritis, including swollen “sausage-like” fingers and toes; low back pain; swelling and pain of knees, ankles, and heels; inflammation of the eyes; burning with urination; and a rash on the palms of the hands and/or soles of the feet. In most people, reactive arthritis symptoms last up to a few months, but seldom remain for more than one year.

Reactive arthritis treatment depends on how quickly it is identified. If caught early, NSAIDs may be enough to decrease swelling and pain. If reactive arthritis becomes chronic, however, it may be necessary to use disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs such as those used in rheumatoid arthritis. Antibiotics may also be used to treat the original bacterial infection.

Physical therapy, strength training, and range-of-motion exercises may help adult and pediatric populations with reactive arthritis to maintain mobility and reduce the stiffness that results from lack of use.

There is no official reactive arthritis diet, but choosing foods that lower inflammation and avoiding the ones that increase it can help you manage your symptoms. Anti-inflammatory food recommendations are similar to those for rheumatoid arthritis as are the foods that seem to contribute to further inflammation.

Because reactive arthritis may be linked to foodborne illness, it is critical to ensure that foods eaten at home or outside the house are fresh and wholesome.

To learn about 7 ingredients that can ease arthritis pain click here and for even more home remedies from the pantry and fridge, click here.