Reactive Arthritis

Medically reviewed by Carina Fung, PharmD, BCPPS

Reactive Arthritis Treatment

Because reactive arthritis can be caused by bacterial infections, your provider may start you on antibiotics to treat20 the underlying cause of your condition.

Additionally, physical therapy is commonly recommended as a treatment option for patients with reactive arthritis. Physical therapy can help strengthen the muscles around your weakened joints and increase your range of motion, both of which will ultimately help decrease the stiffness in your joints.

Common treatment options for the causes, signs, and symptoms of reactive arthritis include:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): NSAIDs can help decrease inflammation and pain associated with reactive arthritis.
  • Antibiotics: Depending on the origin of your reactive arthritis, your healthcare provider may prescribe antibiotics21 before other medications in order to clear any active infections.

Reactive arthritis medication

Your provider may prescribe the following medications for reactive arthritis:

May be prescribed

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Other treatments used to help alleviate the signs and symptoms of reactive arthritis include:

  • Topical steroids: Topical creams or gels may be used to treat rashes associated with reactive arthritis.
  • Corticosteroids: A specialist may inject a steroid medication into your affected joint to reduce inflammation at the site.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis medications: Certain rheumatoid arthritis medications have been known to relieve pain and stiffness at the affected joint(s).

Reactive arthritis diet

For most people, reactive arthritis clears after three months to one year. For some people, however, the condition becomes chronic (long-lasting). Since this condition is an inflammatory autoimmune disease, adding certain anti-inflammatory foods to your diet may help relieve the signs and symptoms of reactive arthritis.

Some studies suggest following the Mediterranean diet22, which focuses on healthy fats (olive oil and/or nuts), plenty of fruits (specifically berries) and vegetables, small amounts of certain fish, and whole grains.

Foods that are high in fiber, as well as those that contain Omega-3 fatty acids, beta carotene, or magnesium, have also been found to decrease inflammatory processes in the body.

Anti-inflammatory foods8, such as those emphasized in the Mediterranean diet, are known to reduce inflammation and may have short and long-term benefits for people with reactive arthritis:

  • Fruits (berries, cherries, oranges)
  • Nuts (almonds or walnuts)
  • Olive oil
  • Tomatoes
  • Certain types of fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines)
  • Leafy green vegetables (spinach, kale, collard greens)

Some foods23 are known to cause inflammation or may contribute to weight gain (which can cause inflammation), and should be avoided by people with reactive arthritis:

  • Red meat (beef, steak, pork)
  • Processed meat (hot dogs, sausage)
  • Soda and artificially sweetened beverages
  • Refined carbohydrates (white bread, pasta)
  • Fried foods
  • Margarine

Disclaimer: The information on this site is generalized and is not medical advice. It is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the expertise and judgment of your healthcare professional. Always seek the advice of your healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard seeking advice or delay in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our site. RxSaver makes no warranty as to the accuracy, reliability or completeness of this information.

If you are in crisis or you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.