What is Reiter’s Syndrome?

Reiter’s syndrome is a form of arthritis identified by inflammation of joints, genitals, eyes, gastrointestinal or urinary tract. It is known by different names like reactive arthritis, venereal arthritis, arthritis urethritica and poluarteritis enteric. It is a rare form of arthritis and mostly affects men. It is very rare in women and children. The following article gives a detailed description on what is Reiter’s syndrome.

What is Reiter’s Syndrome – Causes

As already mentioned, this syndrome (reactive arthritis) is triggered due to an infection. This infection usually occurs either in the genital or urinary tract or is intestinal.

  • Once the presence of bacteria (infection) is recognized, an autoimmune response of the body is initiated automatically triggering a reaction.
  • The main causes of an infection could be either diarrhea (not necessarily due to food poisoning) or the infection of the urinary tract which is a sexually transmitted one.

Symptoms of Reiter’s Syndrome

Symptoms develop in three major areas in the body – joints, eyes and genitals and urinary tracts. The manifestation of symptoms may be different in men and women.
What is Reiter’s Syndrome
The common symptoms include:


  • Redness, swelling in feet, ankles and knees
  • Thickening and shortening of fingers and toes
  • Pain in the heel
  • Stiffness and back pain


  • Pain and redness in the eyes
  • Irritation feeling
  • Blurred vision
  • Fluid discharge
  • Swollen eyelids or sensitivity to sun

Genitals and Urinary Tracts

In Men:

  • Burning sensation while passing urine
  • Urge to urinate often
  • Sores at end of penis
  • Penal discharge
  • Chills
  • Fever

In Women:

  • Burning sensation while passing urine
  • Inflammation in the cervix and vagina
  • Rare symptoms include:
  • Ulcers in the tongue and mouth
  • Rash on the palms and soles
  • Poor appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Fatigue

Treatment of Reiter’s syndrome

Treatment options include medications, good rest, exercises and joint protection. The prime objective of these treatments is to –

  • Alleviate the inflammation and pain in the joints
  • Prevent joint damage
  • Restore the joint functions

Treatments include:
What is Reiter’s Syndrome

  • The common medications suggested for Reiter’s syndrome are anti-inflammatory non-steroidal drugs like diclofenac, indomethacin, sulindac, phenylbutazone and tolmetin. In serious conditions, folic acid antagonists are prescribed to relive inflammation of joints.
  • Antibiotics such as tetracycline are suggested for treating cervicitis, prostatitis and urethritis.
  • Eye related problems such as iritis, conjunctivitis and uveitis are treated with prescription eye drops.
  • Skin sores can be treated with prescription creams.
  • Splints are even suggested to limit joint movements as they help in protecting the joints.
  • Certain specific exercises are also recommended to improve the range of motion and maintain muscle strength.

Hope you got a clear idea on what is Reiter’s syndrome, the causes, symptoms and treatment options.

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