Treatments and drugsBy Mayo Clinic staff
The goal of treatment is to manage your symptoms and treat any underlying bacterial infections that may still be present.
Your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic to eliminate the bacterial infection that triggered your reactive arthritis if it's still detectable in your body. Which antibiotic you take depends on the bacteria that are present.
For your arthritis signs and symptoms, your doctor may recommend:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). NSAIDs can relieve the inflammation and pain of reactive arthritis. Over-the-counter NSAIDs include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) and naproxen (Aleve). Prescription NSAIDs, such as indomethacin (Indocin), may be more effective.
- Corticosteroids. These medications can suppress inflammation in your joints. Injection of a corticosteroid into affected joints can reduce inflammation and allow you to return to your normal activity level.
- Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blockers. TNF is a cell protein (cytokine) that acts as an inflammatory agent in rheumatoid arthritis. TNF blockers target or block this protein and can help relieve pain and stiffness and improve tender or swollen joints. Doctors initially used TNF blockers to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Limited evidence suggests that these medications, such as etanercept (Enbrel) and infliximab (Remicade), can decrease inflammation and relieve pain and stiffness for some people with reactive arthritis.
Exercise can help people with arthritis improve joint function. Your doctor may have you meet with a physical therapist, who can provide you with specific exercises for your joints and muscles. Strengthening exercises are valuable for developing the muscles around your affected joints, which increase the joint's support. Performing range-of-motion exercises can increase your joints' flexibility and reduce stiffness.
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