ARTHRITIS is a condition not normally associated with teenagers but Mikaela Peters' short life has been crippled by joint pain.

The Birtinya teenager suffers from a debilitating form of arthritis which is so rare that since she was diagnosed two years ago she still doesn't know exactly what kind it is.

Mikaela has been diagnosed three times - each time with a different type of rheumatoid arthritis.

It's a form of arthritis that makes the body's immune system over-reactive.

Once an active teenager involved in a range of sports, these days she says she sometimes can't go for a walk "without almost dying".

"I have more bad days than good days," Mikaela said.

But it hasn't all been doom and gloom. Living with arthritis has allowed her to develop her love of 4WDs and photography.

She has spent the past two years taking photos at car shows and befriending organisers and fellow car enthusiasts.

At a charity event last year she was approached to hold her own fundraising event and today that dream will come true when she hosts a 4WD and import car show to raise money for Arthritis Queensland.

Mikaela said the whole experience has made her a much better person.

"I'm a lot stronger mentally than I used to be," she said.

"I value life and the good days when I can go out a lot more now.

"It's really opened my eyes."

Mikaela currently drives a V6 Toyota Hilux that she traded her father an old silver Nissan Pulsar for, but she hopes one day to own a more "showy" 4WD that she can take to car shows.

"I love my 4WDs because people don't expect a little girl to be driving such a big car," she said.

She is expecting about 100 cars at her charity show from 5pm tonight at 3/6 Norval Ct Maroochydore and hopes to raise $500 for arthritis sufferers.

You can donate to Arthritis Queensland at

6.1 million Australians (28 per cent) have musculoskeletal conditions.

Of these, 3.3 million have arthritis.

Arthritis is the most common chronic condition in Australia.

Of those with arthritis,1.8 million have osteoarthritis and 445,000 have rheumatoid arthritis

Nationally, there are 6000 children under 16 with juvenile idiopathic arthritis, making it as common in children as juvenile diabetes.

Around 2 million people with arthritis (62 per cent) are of working age (15-64 years).

The number of people with arthritis in Australia is expected to reach 7 million by 2050.

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