Reactive Arthritis

What Is Reactive Arthritis?

Arthritis occurs when the immune system is misdirected to attack the joints, causing swelling and pain in your joints. Reactive arthritis occurs when an infection in your body triggers this immune response. The infection is usually not in the affected joint, but is elsewhere in the body, such as the gut or bladder. Reactive arthritis, previously called Reiter’s syndrome, is most common in men between ages 20 and 50.

Symptoms of Reactive Arthritis

Symptoms of reactive arthritis usually occur in three clusters. Joint pain, stiffness, or pain in the heel (Achilles tendon) is common. You may have bladder symptoms, including a burning sensation when urinating or needing to urinate more often. You can also get conjunctivitis, or swollen eyelids. This can be accompanied by redness, itching or burning, and discharge.

Symptoms usually last 3-12 months, although about 15-20 percent of people develop chronic arthritis

Treat the Main Infection

In order to stop the immune system reaction, you have to treat the main infection. Work with your doctor to find out where the infection is and how to treat it. If the infection is bacterial, then antibiotics will clear up most infections. Which antibiotic you take will depend on which kind of bacterial infection you have. Your doctor may need to run tests to find out. Viral and fungal infections are harder to treat.

Physical Therapy and Exercise

Exercise can help improve your joint function. A physical therapist can give you exercise routines that will help build up your strength. Strengthening the muscles around your joints helps support them. Range-of-motion exercises improve flexibility and reduce stiffness. Water exercise may also be a good way to exercise without weight bearing by your joints. Heat and cold therapy may also help. Heat reduces pain and soreness, and cold helps swelling.


Natural Pain Relief

The next step on the road to recovery is to ease the pain of your arthritis. A nutritionalist would do this using herbs and spices. Turmeric has been used traditionally to treat the pain of arthritis because of its ability to reduce inflammation. It has been used for centuries as part of Ayuvedic medicine and is used frequently by Indian cultures for medicinal purposes, rather than just as a food flavoring.

Researchers believe that the curcumin it contains works by shutting down the protein that causes the inflammatory response in the body. Gregory Cole, a professor of Medicine and Neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, has conducted several studies on the spice, and says

“There is a need for better, safer drugs to treat inflammatory conditions. If it is not curcumin, we need something a lot like curcumin — something cheap and safe with a long history of use, and no side effects.”

As more than 21 million American adults suffer from arthritis, this is very important. Turmeric can be taken as a spice with food, or in tablet form of between 500-1,000mgs daily.