Emmerdale: Claire King reveals why Kim 'won't wear high heels'
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Most recently in the fictional village where the ITV soap is set, Kim has set her sights on the famous pub The Woolpack as her latest investment – to Chas Dingle’s [Lucy Pargeter] utter disappointment. Playing such a feisty and no-nonsense character on-screen is far from Claire’s real life, as behind the scenes the actress has been dealing with a chronic condition for around 32 years.
Used to suffering in silence, it was in national arthritis week back in October 2021, that the 60-year-old soap star revealed how she suffers terribly with the condition.
“I struggled to go to work and do the things I love, like horse-riding, because of the terrible pressure it put on my knees,” she said.
“I can certainly relate to the ‘invisible disease’ – although my symptoms don’t always show, it doesn’t mean I’m not in pain or feeling exhausted.”
Being diagnosed at just 28 years of age, Claire’s condition has become so severe that she had the joints in her fingers removed and replaced with plates in order to relieve her of symptoms.
Speaking in 2020 on Channel 4’s Steph’s Packed Lunch, Claire confessed how the condition has effected her role as Kim Tate and the adjustments the costume department have had to make as a result.
She said: “You won’t see Kim Tate in six-inch high heels anymore. I wear flat riding boots, I can get away with Ugg boots or trainers or flip flops. It’s just a case of being comfortable.”
Rheumatoid arthritis is a long-term condition that causes pain, swelling and stiffness in the joints, explains the NHS. The condition most commonly affects the hands, feet and wrists.
During periods known as a “flare-up” symptoms can become drastically worse, making it difficult for individuals to go about their everyday lives.
Rheumatoid arthritis mainly affects the joints, but it can cause further problems in any joint of the body. The most common symptom associated with the condition is pain – usually a throbbing and aching pain which worsens in the mornings or after a period of inactivity.
In addition however, stiffness, welling, warmth and redness are all other common symptoms.
As well as affecting the joints, some people with rheumatoid arthritis have more general symptoms including:
- Tiredness and a lack of energy
- A high temperature
- A poor appetite
- Weight loss.
This is due to the condition being an autoimmune condition, which means it is caused by the immune system attacking healthy body tissue. Antibodies mistakenly attack tissue surrounding a joint which in turn causes a thin layer of cells – known as synovium – covering your joints to become sore and inflamed.
Due to her low immunity, when the COVID-19 pandemic began and lockdown restrictions were put in place, Claire had to take a leave of absence from Emmerdale and isolate at her home for a whopping six months.
So while many Emmerdale cast members returned to work in June, following the first national lockdown, Claire stayed at home.
Talking about her prolonged lockdown she said: “I could have gone back earlier but because of my low immunity due to my rheumatoid arthritis, Emmerdale thought they’d better not risk it and decided to write me out until they knew it was safe.
“You can’t muck around with coronavirus and for the first month or two I basically didn’t go out of the house.”
Depending on how much pain and stiffness you feel and how much joint damage you have, simple daily tasks may become difficult or take longer to do, making the condition potentially life-changing.
However, there are effective ways to treat the condition and help to reduce inflammation in the joints to relieve pain. There are two types of medication available: one to help stop rheumatoid arthritis from getting worse and the other to reduce your risk of further problems.
The first is known as disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) and the latter are referred to as biological treatments. DMARDs work by blocking the effects of the chemicals released when your immune system attacks your joints, whereas biological treatments completely block these same chemicals from activating your immune system.
The NHS adds that in addition to the medicines used to control the progression of rheumatoid arthritis, individuals may also need to take medicine specifically to relieve pain. Typical pain relief medication includes paracetamol or codeine.
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