Reiter syndrome is a type of reactive arthritis that happens as a reaction to a bacterial infection in the body. The infection usually happens in the intestines, genitals, or urinary tract.
Reiter syndrome includes redness, joint swelling and pain, often in knees, ankles, and feet, along with inflammation of the eyes and urinary tract. It is not contagious. But the bacteria that trigger it can be passed from one person to another.
There is no cure for Reiter syndrome, but you can control the symptoms. For most people, symptoms go away in 2 to 6 months.
Signs and Symptoms
What Causes It?
Reiter syndrome is caused by a bacterial infection. Researchers do not know exactly why some people develop Reiter syndrome after an infection while others do not, although they think that genetics may play a role. The following factors may raise your risk for Reiter syndrome.
What to Expect at Your Doctor's Office
Tell your doctor about any stomach problems or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) you have had recently. While there is no test for Reiter syndrome, you may be tested for chlamydia. The doctor may test samples of cells from your throat as well as the urethra in men or the cervix in women. Urine and stool samples may also be tested. You may need to have a blood test to rule out other diseases and to see if you have the HLA-B27 gene.
Your doctor may refer you to a rheumatologist, a specialist who treats arthritis. Although Reiter syndrome is an easily managed disease, it is often missed, especially among young, otherwise healthy people who may not have the classic symptoms.
Your doctor may also prescribe drugs to treat specific symptoms, such as steroid eye drops for eye inflammation.
Complementary and Alternative Therapies
Although no complementary and alternative therapies (CAM) have been shown to help Reiter syndrome specifically, some may help reduce inflammation and support your immune system. Some CAM therapies can interact with medications, and some may make underlying medical problems worse. Work with your physician and make sure all of your providers know about any CAM therapies you are considering using.
Nutrition and Supplements
Herbs are a way to strengthen and tone the body's systems. As with any therapy, you should work with your doctor before starting treatment. You may use herbs as dried extracts (capsules, powders, or teas), glycerites (glycerine extracts), or tinctures (alcohol extracts). Unless otherwise indicated, make teas with 1 tsp. (5 g) herb per cup of hot water. Steep covered 5 to 10 minutes for leaf or flowers, and 10 to 20 minutes for roots. Drink 2 to 4 cups per day. You may use tinctures alone or in combination as noted.
The following herbs help reduce inflammation, although they have not been studied specifically for Reiter syndrome. DO NOT take these herbs without your doctor's supervision. Many interact with each other and with other prescription medications, and can cause unwanted side effects.
Although few studies have examined the effectiveness of specific homeopathic therapies, professional homeopaths may consider the following remedies for Reiter syndrome based on their knowledge and experience. Before prescribing a remedy, homeopaths take into account a person's constitutional type, includes your physical, emotional, and psychological makeup. An experienced homeopath assesses all of these factors when determining the most appropriate treatment for each individual.
As with other forms of arthritis, acupuncture may help strengthen the immune system and reduce pain.
The first attack usually lasts 3 to 6 months. Most people are able to keep doing the things they usually do with treatment.
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Review Date: 6/2/2016
Reviewed By: Steven D. Ehrlich, NMD, Solutions Acupuncture, a private practice specializing in complementary and alternative medicine, Phoenix, AZ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
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