Information on Adult Onset Still's Disease Symptoms

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Adult onset Still’s disease symptoms affect each individual patient differently. This rare inflammatory condition may result in a variety of complications, such as chronic arthritis. The childhood version of this condition, formerly referred to as just Still’s disease, is now commonly known as juvenile idiopathic arthritis or systemic onset juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. This disease more often affects women than it does men, and it affects less than one in 100,000 people each year.


Patients with this disease may experience a fever lasting for a week or more, every day, of at least 102 degrees Fahrenheit. In early evening or late afternoon, this fever typically spikes. In some cases, the patient will have two fever spikes in a single day. Between fevers, the patient’s temperature will most often be normal.

Achy and Swollen Joints

Patients may notice that their joints are painful, stiff, and inflamed. These joint symptoms tend to last for a minimum of two weeks. The joints that are most often affected include the knees, ankles, hands, wrists, elbows, and shoulders.


A flat or bumpy salmon-pink rash may come and go and the patient experiences the fever. Rubbing the skin or other forms of physical contact may cause the rash to appear. The rash typically appears on the arms, legs, or trunk.

Muscle Pain

The muscle pain that occurs as an adult onset Still’s disease symptom typically ebbs and flows as the patient is experiencing a fever. The pain can sometimes be severe enough to interfere with the patient’s daily activities.

Other Possible Symptoms

Other symptoms may occur along with this disease. These can include:

  • Sore throat
  • Enlarged liver
  • Inflammation of the heart or lung lining
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the patient’s neck
  • Enlarged spleen
  • Pain when breathing deeply
  • Weight loss
  • Abdominal swelling and pain


Most of the complications associated with this disease occur due to the chronic inflammation of the joints and body organs. Joint destruction can arise if a joint is chronically inflamed. When this complication is severe, knee or hip joint replacement surgery may be necessary. The knees and wrists are most often affected, but the neck, finger, foot, and hip joints are less frequently affected.

Excess fluid around the lungs may occur. Inflammation may cause the pleural space to fill up with fluid.

Heart inflammation may occur resulting in myocarditis or pericarditis.

Other possible complications may include:

  • Arthritis in several joints
  • Spleen enlargement
  • Liver disease

For about 20 percent of all patients, all of their symptoms will go away in about a year and never appear again. For about 30 percent of patients, all of their symptoms will go away, but reappear several times over the course of several years. Symptoms are chronic for about 50 percent of patients with this disease.


MedlinePlus. (2009). Adult Still’s Disease. Retrieved on September 14, 2010 from MedlinePlus: (2010). Adult Still’s Disease. Retrieved on September 14, 2010 from