A former Strictly winner has said she feared she wouldn’t be able to cope with the demands of the show after being given a devastating diagnosis that left her in tears.

Joanne Clifton danced to success on the BBC show in 2016 alongside celebrity partner Ore Oduba.

But, unbeknown to most, the professional dancer was forced to perform through the pain after being diagnosed with osteoarthritis in both knees in 2015.

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Joanne was told she would probably need knee replacement surgery, reports the Manchester Evening News.

She suffered with knee pain on the 2015 tour but continued to perform until one day she woke up unable to move “with a massive swollen knee”.

Joanne told the Daily Mail’s Good Health: “I was in tears wondering if I’d get through it, but I didn’t miss a show.”

Joanne, who joined the show in 2014, completed the 2015 tour while having regular physiotherapy massages and strapping her knees, but a subsequent visit to a consultant and an MRI scan led to a diagnosis and she was told the cartilage in both her knees was being worn away – and that she would probably need a knee replacement in the future.

Former Strictly Come Dancing stars and siblings Joanne and Kevin Clifton
Former Strictly Come Dancing stars and siblings Joanne and Kevin Clifton
(Image: PA)

“I broke down in tears as dance was then my whole life,” she said.

Continuing on for the 2016 series of Strictly, reaching the final saw Joanne hobbling to get her scores.

“I was a bit silly – I put a great idea ahead of my own condition,” she told the publication.

“I’d been told when I was diagnosed in 2015 to avoid high-impact movements. We’d been practising jumping all week.

“By the Friday and Saturday I was really struggling. I look back on that dance now and think ‘Oh, for the sake of my knees, why did I choreograph all that jumping?’

“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.”

After her and Ore’s win, Joanne left Strictly and also marked the end of her ballroom dancing career.

But that hasn’t stopped her and she recently began touring as part of The Addams Family show.

Joanne’s brother Kevin Clifton, who won Strictly two years after his sister with documentary maker and now-girlfriend Stacey Dooley, is also now performing on stage after leaving the hit show.

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