What is Reactive Arthritis (Reiter’s Syndrome)?

My name is Barbara Allan. In 1988, at the age of 25 I suddenly developed arthritis. This was 6 weeks after contracting Shigella food poisoning while camping during a vacation in Michigan.

The type of arthritis I was diagnosed with is reactive arthritis, since it was in reaction to a Shigella infection. (Shigella is a bacteria, similar to Salmonella, that cause bacterial dysentery, which is what I had.) Many types of bacteria can trigger reactive arthritis. They include Yersinia, Chlamydia, Salmonella, and Shigella.

Reactive arthritis is also known as Reiter’s Syndrome. There is an unfortunate stigma attached to the name Reiter’s Syndrome because that name is strongly associated with arthritis caused by bacterial infections in the genital area, in other words, venereal diseases. I say unfortunate stigma because it can interfere with being treated with proper respect by the medical community.

I assume this is because the idea of self or others being sexual brings up unresolved feelings for many people, and the name Reiter’s Syndrome immediately stirs up those issues. However, regardless of exactly why, I’ve found that I have been treated better within the health care system when I have used the name reactive arthritis instead of Reiter’s syndrome, even though they are the same condition.

Although my reactive arthritis was painful for me, my doctors initially didn’t worry very much about it, because reactive arthritis will often times go away on its own once the infection is gone. So I waited a month, but no improvement. I waited six months, and still no improvement.

My doctor then started getting angry at me, because I wasn’t getting well. She even refused to continue treating me and accused me of being a slacker. After another year, my next doctor also gave up on me.

So I turned to alternative medicine. Turns out I was having an allergic reaction to the starch that was used as an “inert ingredient” in the prescription medication I was being given to calm the inflammation in my joints. The pills I was being prescribed were keeping me sick.

I was also having an allergic reaction to several other foods. This is because the dysentery and then the arthritis drugs I was given were so hard on my digestive tract that I started leaking small bits of food into my blood stream, where my immune system started attacking them. I had certainly never had food allergies before this time.

Once I cut my problem foods out of my diet, my arthritis went away and my digestive tract healed up.

Turns out that this is a problem not only with reactive arthritis, but also with rheumatoid arthritis. In fact, I got the idea from looking at what helps cure rheumatoid arthritis.

I’ve learned a lot about healing arthritis from healing myself and helping others do the same. If you would like my help (My name again is Barbara Allan.) then check out my services.

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