When you think of arthritis you probably think of someone who is older, but thousands of young people are suffering with the painful disease. Now one young woman is speaking about her 17 year struggle in hopes of helping others. 7’s Lynn Martinez has Stephanie’s story.

WSVN — Stephanie Aleite is getting into the holiday spirit, but putting up decorations and wrapping presents is a struggle.

Stephanie Aleite: “My elbow and my wrist are really hurting.”

You probably wouldn’t guess it from looking at her. The 22-year-old has rheumatoid arthritis. RA is a painful autoimmune disease which attacks the joints and can cause severe disability, and the disease can strike all ages.

Stephanie Aleite: “Arthritis…you think of old people in wheelchairs. I’ve had this for 17 years.”

Stephanie needs help from her family just to do ordinary things.

Stephanie Aleite: “I struggle to walk, to comb my hair.”

She has now started a blog to help other young people cope with RA.

Stephanie Aleite: “How to give yourself positive thoughts, and how to hush those negative emotions.”

And most importantly, she wants to offer them hope and knowledge.

Stephanie Aleite: “They don’t realize that there are tests, there are newer treatments.”

One of the newer advancements is a blood test called, Vectra Da.

Rheumatologist Dr. Michael Weitz: “It’s a blood test that gives us an idea of how active the arthritis is, how much inflammation is going on, because sometimes with an examination you’re not finding it.”

Stephanie Aleite: “It does make it easier to treat it, because he can track how I’m doing.”

Stephanie gets the blood test done every six months.

Rheumatologist Dr. Michael Weitz: “It showed she had extreme inflammation in her blood, more than I thought she had clinically, and that allowed us to identify the problem and change the treatment.”

And hopefully, the right medications can give her a more productive life.

Rheumatologist Dr. Michael Weitz: “Right now our goal is to put the disease into an inactive stage.”

This year, Stephanie’s holiday wish is to feel good enough to do something special for her family.

Stephanie Aleite: “I would really love to cook a meal for my family for the holidays.”

7190 SW 87th Avenue, Suite 304
Miami 33173

Stephanie’s blog:

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