Reactive arthritis, also known as Reiter's syndrome, is a type of arthritis that occurs as a reaction to an infection somewhere in the body. Most infections that cause the disease originate in the genitourinary tract (the bladder, urethra, penis, or vagina) and are spread through sexual intercourse, a form of the disease called genitourinary Reiter's syndrome, or urogenital Reiter's syndrome.
Other infections that can cause reactive arthritis include gastrointestinal infections due to eating contaminated food or handling contaminated substances, a form of the disease called gastrointestinal Reiter's syndrome, or enteric Reiter's syndrome.
Who is affected by reactive arthritis?
Reactive arthritis is characterized by inflamed joints and affects mostly young men, between the ages of 20 and 40. Although researchers are not sure why some people develop reactive arthritis in response to certain infections, a genetic factor (presence of the HLA-B27 gene) seems to increase the risk.