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Reactive arthritis is typically triggered by an infection, usually bacterial, that affects the gastrointestinal or genitourinary system. The bacteria associated with reactive arthritis include Salmonella, Shigella, Yersinia, and Campylobacter, which can be transmitted through contaminated food or water.
Reactive Arthritis may also occur in reaction to viral infections.
The exact mechanism of how the infection leads to reactive arthritis is not fully understood. It is believed that the bacteria trigger an abnormal immune response in genetically susceptible individuals. This immune response can lead to inflammation in the joints and other parts of the body.
Some factors that increase the risk of developing reactive arthritis include:
Diagnosis of reactive arthritis is based on the presence of symptoms, medical history, and physical examination. Blood tests can be used to check for markers of inflammation and HLA-B27 gene. Imaging tests, such as X-rays, CT scans, or MRI, may also be used to evaluate joint damage.