What treatments are there for reactive arthritis?
Medical treatments for reactive arthritis fall into three groups:
1. Treating the infection
This usually involves:
- antibiotics (usually taken by mouth) if you're found to have a bowel or genital tract infection
- eye drops or ointment to treat conjunctivitis
- steroid eye drops to treat iritis.
2. Treating the joint pain and swelling
Joint inflammation is treated according to severity. It usually involves:
- non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)in mild to moderate cases
- ice packs and heat pads to relieve joint pain and swelling (wrapped in a towel to protect your skin)
- splints to rest your wrist joints or heel and shoe pads for painful feet.
3. Treating severe or ongoing arthritis
If you have more severe joint symptoms you may need:
- to have some fluid removed from the affected joint through a needle (aspiration) – steroid injection is often given into the joint at the same time
- steroid injection close to an inflamed tendon, or into a muscle (so that it spreads through the body)
- a short course of low-dose steroid tablets.
If these treatments don't control the symptoms quickly enough you may be given disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) such as sulfasalazine.