I think that ReA is often under-diagnosed; many people who end up getting diagnoses like Fibromyalgia or other arthritises and auto-immune diseases -- even Multiple Sclerosis (MS), because a common misperception among doctors is that ReA/Reiter's doesn't cause neuropathy and it's very clear that it most certainly does in many cases -- actually have ReA.
Fundamentally, ReA is an imbalance between the T1 and T2 branches of the immune system. These control external versus internal (auto-) immunity. It's another misperception that classical inflammatory/rheumatic blood markers (Sedimentation Rate, C-Reactive Protein, Rheumatoid Factor, TNF, etc) must be present for ReA to be the diagnosis and that the vast majority of sufferers are genetically HLA-B27 positive (the official numbers are something like 60-75% but I think the un/misdiagnosed cases throw this figure off and it's more like 50% or less).
Don't assume that because your blood tests are "normal" that you can't be having a ReA flare -- even a quite severe one. Keep an eye on your white blood cell count -- that can be a better indicator, even if it isn't extremely high....even slight elevation can be indicative of reactive immune activity.
ReA doesn't necessarily just make your immune system over-active, which is why immune suppressants are often a poor treatment for ReA that can backfire (after all, an infection caused your condition.....exposure to pathogens, even if you fight them off, can trigger flares....and immune suppressants come with a risk of.....infections!).....it makes it unbalanced, and it can actually make it weaker in terms of fighting off infections effectively.I know that after 10 years of ReA, I now tend to come down with almost everything I am exposed to even slightly. I've had to take to wearing a surgical mask and sometimes even latex gloves when entering high-exposure environments; I may look a bit ridiculous and attract unwanted attention, but the alternative is extremely painful to say the least.
There are numerous things you can do to fight the inflammation and shore up your immune system. Here are some things to look into:
*Tumeric -- works better than any other anti-inflammatory substance of any kind that I've tried.
*Piperine (brand name Bioperine, black pepper extract; it boosts absorption of almost anything in the digestive tract)
*L-Tyrosine/N-Acetyl-L-Tyrosine, preferably the latter
*Lots of Vitamin D of course....preferably upwards of 5,000 IU per day
*Low Dose Naltrexone (incompatible with opiate pain medication, but has huge potential for reversing damage to the immune system and can be an effective pain reliever on its own by increasing your body's own endorphin production -- this is something I think that every one with a disease with LDN can treat should look into!)
*Ultra Low Dose Naltrexone (taken with opiate pain meds to prevent or even reverse tolerance/dependence and improve the effectiveness of the pain medication, make it last longer, etc)
*Cesamet (non-dependency-causing pain medication that I personally have found very effective, also works well against nausea)
*High potency probiotic with as many different strains of digestive flora as possible. I personally suggest MegaFlora brand.
*Magnesium. This sounds obvious, but really most people don't get nearly enough. You can take Epsom Salt baths, apply magnesium oil topically in large amounts directly to your most sore muscles, and take a high potency magnesium supplement yet your body may still be begging for more. Among its other benefits, magnesium can prevent the formation of tolerance to/dependence on opiate pain medications.
I'd watch it with that naproxen. Turmeric will work better and is actually good for your digestion, has essentially no side effects. The more you take of it, the better. It's good for your heart, fights cancer, and has many other beneficial properties. Add Piperine (Bioperine) to boost absorption of the turmeric and also take Bromelain which has its own amazing anti-inflammatory/healing properties. Together with ginger and some of the other things I've suggested, you will find that you can have much more of an effect than any pharmaceutical I've tried -- which is practically all of them, at least the relevant ones to ReA.
Swimming in water for exercise is definitely great....and the endorphins from exercise can help balance your immune system. However, many pools are high-exposure environments for pathogens! So it's a Catch-22. I struggle with that debate every day because we have a wonder YMCA branch nearby that we love to visit, and I am often very conflicted about whether it's wiser to push myself to go or to avoid going for those reasons.
Conditions: Reactive Arthritis (AKA Reiter Syndrome), Crohn's Disease, Chronic Pelvic Inflammatory Syndrome, Sacroiliitis, Costochondritis, As Yet Unknown MS-Like Relapsing/Remitting Neuropathy, and a partridge in a pear tree.
Medications: Currently not that many are taken daily, but there are many at my disposal for part-time use. Low dose pain medication, after years at high doses. Working on innovative ways of taking lesser-known pharmaceuticals and non-prescription supplements to maximum benefit.