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Management of reactive arthritis.

Reactive arthritis (ReA) is an aseptic form of articular inflammation induced by infections mainly localised in the gastrointestinal (enteroarthritis) or urogenital (uroarthritis) tracts. The bacteria principally involved as causative agents are Chlamydia, Salmonella, Shigella, Campylobacter and Yersinia. The clinical picture is usually characterised by a mono-oligoarthritis of the lower limbs. Axial involvement is possible and extra-articular manifestations such as enthesitis, tenosynovitis, bursitis and dactylitis are frequent. NSAIDs and sulfasalazine are still the drugs most commonly used in the treatment of ReA. Steroids are administered when inflammatory symptoms are resistant to NSAIDs. Experiences with other DMARDs (disease modifying antirheumatic drugs) such as azathioprine, methotrexate and cyclosporin, have been sporadically reported and they can be employed in patients that are unresponsive to the more usual medicaments. The intake of antibacterials (tetracyclines) may be useful in uroarthritis but have not been so successful in enteroarthrits. In more aggressive cases, or when ReA evolves towards ankylosing spondylitis, TNF-alpha blockers could represent an effective choice.

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