Reactive arthritis natural history, complications and prognosis
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If left untreated, patients with reactive arthritis may progress to develop myalgias and joint pain especially in the lower extremities. Over the course of time, patient develops urethritis and conjunctivitis. Complications of reactive arthritis are seen with chronic course and may include chronic arthritis with remitting relapsing course, urethral stricture, vitreous floaters, macular edema, cataracts or glaucoma, ankylosing spondylitis, and aortitis. Prognosis is generally good for patients with reactive arthritis. Patients who receive and respond to treatment generally have rapid reversal of symptoms. It is estimated that around 25% of patients may develop long term complication of arthropathy.
- The symptoms of reactive arthritis usually develop after 1-3 weeks of initial infection (in another part of the body) and start with symptoms such as malaise, fatigue, and fever.
- Majority of the patients have a self limited course with complete healing within 3-12 months.
- If left untreated, patients with reactive arthritis may progress to develop myalgias and joint pain especially in the lower extremities. Over the course of time, patient develops urethritis and conjunctivitis.
- Urethritis presents with dysuria, increased frequency, urgency, and urethral discharge whereas conjunctivitis leads to pain, burning, and tearing sensation in eyes.
- Chronic arthritis with remitting relapsing course
- Urethral stricture
- Vitreous floaters
- Macular edema
- Cataracts or glaucoma
- Ankylosing spondylitis
- Prognosis is generally good for patients with reactive arthritis.
- Patients who receive and respond to treatment generally have rapid reversal of symptoms.
- It is estimated that around 25% of patients may develop long term complications of arthropathy.
- Long term complications are mostly seen in patients who are unresponsive to NSAIDs and have elevated ESR.
- Patients who are HLA-B27 positive have a high rate of recurrence (upto 50%).
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