Adult Still’s Disease

What is Adult Still’s Disease?

Adult Still’s disease is a form of inflammatory arthritis that may turn into chronic arthritis. In some rare cases, the inflammation that is caused by this condition could result in the destruction of the joints that are affected, especially the wrists.

Some individuals will only have a single occurrence of adult Still’s disease, while others will have to deal with the condition recurring or persisting over time.

The fact that a virus or any other kind of infectious agent may trigger this condition has not be proven. The real cause of Still’s disease is unknown and therefore, there are no risk factors associated with this condition.

What are the Symptoms of Adult Still’s Disease?

A fever is usually present and last a few days.

Symptoms include

  • A sore throat is usually one of the first signs of adult Still’s. Lymph nodes that are located within the neck may also be tender and swollen.
  • A fever every day for a week or more. The fever is usually a minimum of 102°F (38.9°C), and it will typically peak in the early evening or in the late afternoon. The body temperature returns to normal between those peaks.
  • Accompanying the fever might be a pink rash on the legs, arms, or trunk.
  • Muscle pain can come and go with the fever, but it can also be so severe that it gets in the way of your daily life.
  • Swollen and achy joints, particularly the wrists and knees, may also be stiff. Hands, elbows, shoulders, and ankles may also be achy. This joint discomfort will typically last a minimum of two weeks.

Adult Still’s Disease Causes

No one knows for sure what causes Adult Still’s disease (AOSD), although studies are ongoing. Researchers suspect the causes to be related to certain antigens (substances that trigger the production of antibodies to fight an infection) entering the body. The most common trigger for AOSD seems to be a viral or bacterial infection, which causes the symptoms that characterize this condition.

The main risk factor for Adult Still’s disease seems to be age. It most often happens in people between the ages of 15-25 and 36-46, although it has occurred in adults between the ages of 26-35 and older than 46 for the first time as well.

Adult Still’s disease does not occur in children, although there is a condition called systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis that shares some of the same characteristics as Adult Still’s disease. AOSD’s symptoms are also similar to rheumatoid arthritis, and diagnosis of this condition will often be followed by a diagnosis of some form of arthritis.

Unlike rheumatoid arthritis, which is largely diagnosed in women, gender plays no part in determining who will have it.

How is Adult Still’s Disease Treated?

Treatment for adult Still’s disease includes the use of medications like prednisone that can control and reduce inflammation and provide relief.

The types of medications used will depend upon the severity of the condition and if the patient suffers with any side effects.

Prescription treatment includes

  • Steroids
  • Over-the-counter and prescription non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
  • Methotrexate (Trexall)
  • Biologic response modifiers, such as adalimumab (Humira), etanercept (Enbrel), and infliximab (Remicade), as well as rituximab (Rituxan), tocilizumab (Actemra), and anakinra (Kineret).

Adult Still’s Disease Prevention

As with many conditions where the cause is unknown, there is no current known way to prevent Adult Still’s disease. It can be difficult to diagnose correctly the first time because some of its symptoms mimic the symptoms of other serious medical conditions (like lupus, Lyme disease, some forms of cancer, and mononucleosis).

Since Adult Still’s disease can turn into a chronic condition, emphasis is placed on managing it and preventing future flare-ups. Management includes consistent use of medications and exercises to strengthen joints and muscles, and could potentially include vitamin supplements. If a diagnosis of arthritis follows Adult Still’s disease, then ways to manage that condition will be discussed as well.

Last Reviewed:
September 11, 2016
Last Updated:
November 02, 2017