Caitlin Ryan, California Teen, Describes Growing Up With Juvenile Arthritis (VIDEO)

'I Couldn't Play With My Friends Because Of The Pain' (VIDEO)

Growing up with a rare disease, Caitlin Ryan had an unusual childhood. At three years old, the California teen was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis.

Now 14, the Orange County native had both of her hips replaced, and she has learned to live with extreme pain every day.

Growing up, Ryan didn't fully understand her condition. Her parents initially thought she had the flu or had fallen off her bike. She went to many doctors -- who said it could be cancer or muscular dystrophy -- before receiving the "shocking" diagnosis of juvenile arthritis.

“I couldn’t play with my friends, go on the playground or even write, because I couldn’t pick up a pencil (due to pain),” Caitlin told Fox News. “I realized it was going to be hard.”

The disease affects over 300,000 children, according to Fox News. More research into its causes and treatments is still needed.

“Over the past 15 years new drugs have been introduced, and we can do a much better job of controlling this condition,” Dr. John Hardin, vice president of research for the Arthritis Foundation, told Fox News. “It’s basically a disease that causes severe inflammation of all of the joints and sometimes systemic manifestations as well.”

Like Ryan, 17-year-old Phoebe Bruce from Wales also opened up recently about living with a rare genetic disorder. Her condition, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, causes her to dislocate her arms and legs up to 18 times per day. Bruce does her best to maintain a positive attitude.

She told ITV News: "On a day to day basis, if you don't laugh about it, you're gonna cry at the end of the day."

And in a touching personal account published on the Huffington Post, 18-year-old Drew Kirk shared his story of breaking over 400 bones in his young life due to a rare genetic disorder called Osteogenesis Imperfecta, or brittle bone disorder. Kirk says that his family has helped him to not let his challenges get him down.

"Going through these kind of emotional struggles, I was never alone," Kirk writes. "I have an amazing family and friends, including my mom, who is always there for me."

Are you inspired by these teens' positivity and strength? Tell us in the comments below or tweet @HuffPostTeen.

Popular in the Community


What's Hot