Paula Abdul's Lupus Diagnosis Explained

Before you loved Paula Abdul on "American Idol," she was a sought-after choreographer, starting with the LA Lakers and then designing Janet Jackson's moves for videos like "What Have You Done for Me Lately?" Yes, that's Paula playing Janet's best friend in the video. 

However, a lifetime of dancing took her body to extreme limits. "I've made my body do crazy things from all the dancing and choreography—and different movements are jarring on my joints," she told Parade. Before she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis, Abdul learned that she had rheumatoid lupus after surviving a plane crash and experiencing many dance injuries. 

In a 2014 interview on YouTube, she said that she is now "free" from the disease. According to Parade, she follows an anti-inflammatory diet to help reduce her pain. She stretches first thing in the morning and just before she goes to bed in the evening. She also does Pilates and takes ice baths. She says the joy of dancing and keeping a positive outlook helps her manage her symptoms.

What is lupus?

Lupus is an autoimmune disease, which means your immune system attacks healthy cells rather than an infection, according to the Lupus Foundation of America. People with lupus will feel pain in various parts of the body, but it's most common in the skin, joints, or internal organs. Symptoms of lupus also include extreme fatigue, joint pain, headaches, or swelling in feet and hands. Sometimes people with lupus will experience hair loss or develop a butterfly-shaped rash on their faces. Women between the ages of 15 and 44 are more likely to get lupus.

Although Abdul says her lupus is in remission, she currently suffers from rheumatoid arthritis. According to WebMD, these two autoimmune conditions have similar symptoms such as pain in the joints. The joint pain with rheumatoid arthritis is less severe than with lupus. There are no cures for either disease, so people who suffer from these chronic conditions must work with their doctors to find the best plan of treatment.

The Lupus Foundation of America says anticoagulants can help prevent blood clots, and steroids or anti-inflammatories can treat inflammation. Certain medicines can prevent the immune system from attacking healthy cells and help it work properly.