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Strictly star Joanne Clifton shares details of crippling health condition

Joanne left the show in 2016

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Gemma Strong
Online Digital News Director
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Strictly star Joanne Clifton certainly made a name for herself during her time on the show and famously went on to win the competition with Ore Oduba in 2016.

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But her passion for dance has come at a personal cost. Just one year earlier, the 38-year-old was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in both her knees and she can now no longer even get out her car without the use of a special device.

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The condition also means that Joanne – younger sister of fellow former Strictly star Kevin Clifton - cannot run or jump.

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In a candid interview with Good Health, Joanne spoke about her final performance with Ore, which saw the pair leaping on and off drum tops.

joanne clifton kevin strictly

Joanne and brother Kevin both starred in Strictly

"I was a bit silly - I put a great idea ahead of my own condition," she admitted. "I'd been told when I was diagnosed in 2015 to avoid high-impact movements. We'd been practising jumping all week.

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"By the Friday and Saturday, I was really struggling. I look back on that dance now and think,- 'Ooh, for the sake of my knees, why did I choreograph all that jumping?'

joanne clifton family

Joanne comes from a family of dancers

"After our last dance, I could only hobble up to Claudia [Winkleman] to get our points. But winning was a great feeling despite the pain."

While Joanne comes from a family of Latin dancers – including both her parents and brother Kevin – she specialises in ballroom.

"Latin dancers dance on straighter legs and do hip actions," Joanne explained. "I did 30-odd years of dancing with bent knees. They don't have any arthritis whereas I know many ballroom dancers who've had knee replacements, because their cartilage is worn away by years of bent knees."

joanne clifton boyfriend wedding

The star has found love with AJ Jenks

While Joanne made the decision to leave Strictly following her 2016 win, her career has gone from strength to strength and she recently began a stage tour of The Addams Family, in which she stars as Morticia.

She has also found love with boyfriend AJ Jenks. The couple went public with their romance in April 2020 and maintained their romance during lockdown with a series of virtual dates.

"He takes me on FaceTime date night every week now... until this is over... I’m a lucky girl... and he sings to me 'Wake me up, when this Lockdown ends' @aj_jenksuk SOPPINESS DONE FOR THIS WEEK!!! #Coronavirus #coronadatenight," she previously shared on Instagram.

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