‘I was shocked’ Ulrika Jonsson stunned over Strictly pro Joanne Clifton’s frail appearance

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Ulrika Jonsson, 54, has expressed her concerns after seeing Joanne Clifton, 38, appear to struggle while getting out of her car last week. The former Strictly Come Dancing professional has been battling osteoarthritis, the same condition that the Gladiators host suffers from.

In her column this week, Ulrika typed: “I WAS shocked to see pictures of ex-Strictly dancer Joanne Clifton struggling out of her car.

“This woman used to fly across the dance floor, glided like an angel and was as flexible as a rubber doll.

“Now, at 38, she has to use a supportive grip attached to her car to assist her after being diagnosed with osteoarthritis.

“It is estimated more than eight million people in the UK suffer from this most common form of arthritis. I’m one of them,” she added.

Ulrika explained how she was unaware that it was not normal to have daily pain, as she had experienced it for a prolonged period of time.

She continued to The Sun: “Weird thing is, throughout my life, I didn’t realise it wasn’t normal to have pain in your hips. Mine is chronic and I guess I’ve been living with it for most of my life.

“It was only when the pain was getting persistently bad a couple of years ago that I went to my GP. I don’t have pain every day but sitting for long periods of time is murder.”

The celebrity columnist also claimed that for Joanne, it must be “psychologically” punishing to suffer from the condition, as the dancer’s career revolves around movement.

Ulrika revealed she could be due a “hip replacement” in the coming years after grappling with the painful condition.

Just five years after she won Strictly Come Dancing with presenter Ore Oduba, Joanne now uses a special support device to help her get in and out of her car and finds it difficult to walk downstairs or downhill.

The 38-year-old is about to star as Morticia in an upcoming production of The Addams Family musical and will be taking part in a “massive Tango”, subsequently having to rest her knees and wrap them in a specially designed water bottle beforehand.

“It’s my new best friend,” she told MailOnline.

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“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.”

She continued: “I am still dancing but not as full-on as the competition world.

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

The professional dancer said she first knew something was wrong on the Strictly tour in 2016, when she woke up to find one knee was “so swollen and so stiff”.

Joanne shared: “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’.”

Joanne joined Strictly in 2014 and bowed out after lifting the Glitterball trophy with Ore in 2016.

Before joining the BBC series, she was crowned world ballroom champion in 2014 and five times British champion.

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