Medical Q&As

Still's disease - what is it?

What is Stillís disease?

Stillís disease is named after the English physician Sir George Still who first described the condition in the last century. It is a form of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis that is characterised by arthritis accompanied by systemic illness, high fever and a characteristic salmon pink skin rash. The condition was originally described in children but can also occur in adults, albeit rarely. There are several theories about its causation including the concept that it could be a reaction to infection but in truth this is only a theory and the cause remains unknown. The initial symptoms include extreme fatigue and high fever and may include pleurisy or even pericarditis, which is an inflammation of the membrane that envelops the heart. Children with Stillís disease are usually quite ill and the arthritis may initially be masked by the dramatic nature of the systemic symptoms. The antibody tests that we associate with rheumatoid arthritis are negative in the case of Stillís disease. Essentially the diagnosis is based on the symptoms and signs rather than a specific test. The systemic symptoms tend to resolve within a few months but the arthritis can persist throughout childhood and into adulthood. You can learn more about Stillís disease by assessing the following site, which has been created to deal exclusively with the disease: http://www.stillsdisease.org/