What is Still's Disease?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 20 September 2018
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Still’s disease can be called an adult form of systematic onset juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA). British physician George Still observed JRA in children in the late 19th century, but later some doctors noticed that adults could manifest the same symptoms as well. Those usually most at risk for adult Still’s disease were people between the ages of 15-25 and also those between the ages of 36-46 years old. People outside of these age groups can develop or continue to manifest Still’s disease, but it can be said these two age groups are most at risk for developing the condition.

This disease remains a puzzle for medical researchers. Cause is unclear and doctors don’t know if the disease results from genetic predilection, or contact with certain viruses or bacteria. However, diagnosis of the condition tends to be fairly easy since the symptoms are fairly standard and unmistakable.

Symptoms of Still’s disease include swelling and pain at the joints, and the tendency to spike daily fevers that can be as high as 102 degrees F (38.89 degrees C). People also exhibit a flat or rough, pink (described as salmon pink) rash on the mid body, legs and arms, which may worsen when showers or baths are taken. The rash can come or go, as does joint pain and fever. Other symptoms can include enlarged lymph nodes, enlarged spleen, symptoms of anemia, and sore throat.


Sometimes this causes doctors to confuse Still’s disease with mononucleosis, which has quite similar symptoms. Yet mono at onset tends to not relent, and people with Still’s disease can have periods where they feel fine and then suddenly feel awful. Mono can also be ruled out via blood testing.

There are some complications which can occur with Still’s Disease, and these may depend upon how long symptoms last. Some people get one bout of the condition and never get another. Others remain in an almost perpetual state of non-recovery. Still others have a few bouts and then have recovery periods in between each bout.

People who have the condition for longer periods of time can have some pretty serious complications. They can develop chest pain, pneumonia or pleurisy, and if chronic inflammation exists, they may also suffer from an enlarged heart as a result. Swelling of the ankles, wrists and knees can create permanent joint damage.

Treatment does exist for the symptoms of Still’s disease. Standard treatment includes prescribing non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications for use to bring down fever and help with swelling. Some doctors also prescribe glucocorticoids, which do have their own risk, like raising risk of infection and compromising your immune system. Methotrexate is also prescribed by some doctors as a means of fighting the condition.

Even with treatment, symptoms may persist, and at present there is really no way to determine how to prevent the condition or exactly what will cure it. Getting adequate rest and exercise may help with joint pain, and remaining on prescribed medications is also recommended, even if you are feeling better. Patients with the condition do need monitoring, follow-ups with doctors, and should see a physician if the condition appears cured and then reemerges at a later point. If you do suffer the above symptoms for a period lasting longer than two weeks, you should see your doctor to discuss whether you have this condition.



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