When one thinks of diseases a child can acquire, he or she will generally think of seasonal and non-chronic illnesses, like a cold or the flu. It is startling to note, however, that arthritis is the sixth most common childhood disease, behind other debilitating diseases like asthma, diabetes, heart disease, cerebral palsy, and epilepsy.
Here are some little known facts about Still’s Disease:
Arthritis is also the number one offender of acquired disability in children.
Still’s Disease accounts for 10-20% of all JRA cases, affecting between 25-50,000 children in the United States alone.
Out of all children with SD, all have high temperature fevers as well as joint inflammation, muscle pain, and persistent chronic arthritis; 95% have the pink-colored rash; 85% have swelling in their lymph glands or enlargement of the spleen or liver as well as a marked increase in white blood cell count; 60% have inflammation around the lungs or heart; 40% have severe anemia; and 20% have abdominal pain.
The site used for the last two facts also says that the salmon-colored rash doesn’t itch. This is a lie. I personally have spent many sleepless nights scratching at various body parts due to said rash. The insatiable itching cannot be resolved through anti-itch lotions or anti-histamines. Actually scratching the rash causes it to raise above the natural skin level as well as causing the itch to get worse.
Said site also discusses the temporary nature of this disease. This is also wrong (at least regarding systemic arthritis). I got sick in November of my kindergarten year and have never recovered. A small percentage of children do grow out of the disease. However, the majority of children face a lifetime of arthritis-related problems.
The cause of Still’s Disease isn’t yet known. Some think it grows from an untreated strep throat, others from a microbe. Whatever the cause, it seems to be a genetic disease. Or, at the very least, the susceptibility to the disease is.
Arthritis is generally seen as a disease which affects the elderly. With the higher prevalence of RA in middle-aged people, arthritis is getting more attention than it has in the past. However, there is still the idea that arthritis is not a disease that affects children. Hopefully in the future, this will change and there will be more attention drawn to the plight of children with this painfully chronic and debilitating disease.