Strictly champion Joanne Clifton is diagnosed with osteoarthritis

I’m battling arthritis… but it won’t stop me tangoing: Strictly Come Dancing champion Joanne Clifton, 38, can no longer dance like she used to after being diagnosed with osteoarthritis

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She flew across the dancefloor, sliding down poles, jumping on drums and being thrown in the air to become the Strictly Come Dancing champion.

But Joanne Clifton can no longer dance like she used to following a diagnosis of osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis in the UK.

Although she is not in daily pain, Miss Clifton, 38, finds it difficult to walk downstairs or downhill. She uses a special support device she can grip to help her get out of a car.

Joanne Clifton, 38, won the 2016 series of Strictly with TV presenter Ore Oduba a year after she was diagnosed with the chronic condition 

And after rehearsing for her latest role as Morticia in upcoming touring musical The Addams Family, in which she takes part in a ‘massive tango’, she has spent evenings with her knees wrapped in a specially designed hot water bottle.

‘It’s my new best friend,’ she told the Daily Mail.

‘Coming out of rehearsals where it was full-on tango, and after lockdown, I’ve been aching. I had twinges so I wrap it around my knees.

‘Touch wood, I’m not in too much pain for now. When I start touring again with Addams Family, if the stage sometimes isn’t flat, those are the shows when it’s going to hurt and my water bottle will come in very handy.

Miss Clifton now uses a portable car grip to help with her osteoarthritis. She also uses a hot water bottle

‘I am still dancing but not as full-on as the competition world.

‘I can’t really get up quickly off the floor any more so I either need someone to help me or I don’t go down on the floor and I stay up and do something.’

Miss Clifton won the 2016 series of Strictly with TV presenter Ore Oduba a year after she was diagnosed with the chronic condition.

She said she started to worry when she woke up one morning on the Strictly touring show to discover one knee was ‘so swollen and so stiff’.

Miss Clifton at the 2016 Strictly launch. She wants to get across that osteoarthritis affects any age, and that it’s ‘not just for old people’

‘The first time they told me, whether it’s osteo or rheumatoid, you just hear “arthritis” and I thought, “Oh my god I’m really old”,’ she said.

‘But that’s the message I want to get across. It does affect any age. There was a two-year-old who was diagnosed with it, it’s not just for old people.’

She now uses products such as the hot water bottle and the car device, both designed by Arthr, a company specialising in products for those with arthritis.

‘There is a thing you put in between a car door. It’s really discreet and you can fit it in your bag and you can lean on it and it’s really strong,’ she said.

‘It’s things like that that I didn’t know I needed in my life.’

The Addams Family tour begins in Nottingham on November 5. 

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