There are many different types of arthritis. Some types prefer to target the spine while others do not. Reiters syndrome is a less common form of arthritis but certainly one that can affect the spine and be quite painful. This week’s blog will focus on this lesser known type of spinal arthritis.
Reiters syndrome typically affects younger patients (less than 45) and the back pain will likely target the lower part of the lower back. What perhaps makes it most unique are the other signs and symptoms that accompany the back pain, affecting other areas of the body. For example, there is often an associated urethritis (which causes burning with urination) conjunctivitis (which causes eye pain) and characteristic skin lesions on the hands and feet. For the practitioners out there, Reiters syndrome is a seronegative arthritide (negative for rheumatoid factor) and it usually follows an infection. HLA-B27 is a blood marker that can give insight into those people who may be prone to a reactive arthritis after experiencing a bacterial infection (those prone to Reiters).
In a nutshell, a textbook case of Reiters syndrome may appear as the following…
A younger person who has eye and urinary symptoms and perhaps some skin lesions or lesions in the mouth. The sacroiliac joints can be affected (which is the back pain component) and the person may experience pain in the knees or ankles. Some people with Reiters syndrome can get swelling of the fingers. Blood tests will usually show signs of inflammation (elevated ESR) and perhaps positive HLA-B27, but the bloodwork should be negative for Rheumatoid factor. Over time, there may be subtle changes on x-rays, especially affecting the sacroiliac joint.
Treatment for Reiters syndrome is usually an effort to normalize the biomechanics of affected joints and reduce joint and tissue irritation. The damage to the joints may be progressive and / or permanent. Chiropractic, massage therapy, physiotherapy and athletic therapy are all suitable treatment options as soon as a proper diagnosis is confirmed. The person who has confirmed Reiters syndrome may be prone to joint irritation given their susceptibility to joint arthritis following future infections, so preventative maintenance of normal joint function and core strength is encouraged.
If you are suffering from back pain due to Reiters Syndrome, please contact us about treatment options.