How are the joint symptoms of reactive arthritis (ReA) treated?

Updated: Dec 24, 2020
  • Author: Carlos J Lozada, MD; Chief Editor: Herbert S Diamond, MD  more...
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Joint symptoms are best treated with aspirin or other short-acting and long-acting anti-inflammatory drugs (eg, indomethacin, naproxen). In one report, a patient became asymptomatic after 3 months of aspirin at a dosage of 80 mg/kg/day; the dosage was gradually reduced and eventually discontinued. A combination of NSAIDs is reportedly effective in severe cases. No published data suggest that any NSAID is more effective or less toxic than another (controlled treatment trials are difficult to conduct with an uncommon disease).

Varying success in treating severe cases of ReA with other medications (eg, sulfasalazine, methotrexate, etretinate, ketoconazole, azathioprine, or intra-articular steroid injections) has been reported. In a refractory case or a patient with HIV-associated ReA, the anti−TNF-α agent infliximab may be successful. [98] Depending on the culture results, a short course of antibiotics may be needed; however, treatment may not affect the disease course. Longer-term administration of antibiotics to treat joint symptoms provides no established benefits.

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