Carrie Ann Inaba to return as 'DWTS' judge amid Sjogren Syndrome battle

Carrie Ann Inaba has been a superb dancer for long, but not a lot of people know the reality behind and the pain she went through to achieve things

                            Carrie Ann Inaba to return as 'DWTS' judge amid Sjogren Syndrome battle
Actress Carrie Ann Inaba attends 26th Genesis Awards held at The Beverly Hilton Hotel. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images for The Humane Society)

It is that time of the year when everyone puts on their dancing shoes to support their favorite celebrities as the popular reality dance competition ‘Dancing with the Stars’ make its way to the television screens. Apart from the celebrities entering the competition, there is always a curiosity about who’s going to be a judge on the show as well.

So, we have four judges on the show this time around and one of the judges is none other than Carrie Ann Inaba. The dancer-turned-actress recently made waves by becoming the co-host of the popular talk show ‘The Talk’. She co-hosted the show, with Sara Gilbert, for 47 episodes before she exited the show due to health reasons.


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But now, she is returning to judge the dance show once again and fans are excited to know that Inaba is coming back amid health concerns. So, let’s take a look at her inspiring journey and how she overcame everything to achieve what she wanted.

TV personality Carrie Ann Inaba attends PETA's 35th Anniversary Party at Hollywood Palladium on September 30, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for PETA)

Who is Carrie Ann Inaba?

Born on January 5, 1968, Carrie Ann Inaba was always fascinated by dancing and took a liking to it. However, she also loved singing and won a talent show in Hawaii at the age of 18. She instantly became a pop star and her songs turned out to be huge hits in Japan. However, she returned to the US to take her talent to the next level and found dancing. Inaba appeared as a featured solo dancer during Madonna's 1993 Girlie Show World Tour.

She has had a good career in choreography as well. Her choreography has been featured on various shows such as ‘American Idol’ and also choreographed the Miss America Pageant for five years. She appeared in the first season of ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ during the audition stages where she provided choreography for the ‘choreography round’.


But soon, health concerns overshadowed her dancing career and she had to take a lot of breaks. So what happened? And how her career came to a halt while fighting a lot of illnesses? Let’s take a look.

Inaba’s battle with spinal stenosis and Sjogren syndrome

According to Inaba, she first got to know that there is something wrong with her back while talking with fellow dancing coach Len Goodman. In an interview, Inaba revealed that Goodman asked her a question and when she turned her head to talk with him, she felt a severe pain go down her back. However, she didn’t think it was too serious at the time and thought that it was all due to “stress”.

The choreographer went for an MRI and got the unsettling news that she has spinal stenosis. In simple words, the condition is a narrowing of the spaces within your spine, which can put pressure on the nerves that travel through the spine.


The news came as a shocker to her, but her doctor warned her that this is a serious condition and she should be taking good care of herself or her dancing career might be over. Another diagnosis that came just after this was rheumatoid arthritis. As soon as she got to know about arthritis, she started taking therapy to lessen the pain. But it was really hard for her to cope with the stress that came with it. She said, “After a lot of damage — and dancing puts a lot of damage on your body — the effects compile. I got to the point where it just wasn’t feasible for me to be a dancer anymore.”

But something even worse was waiting for her. Like every autoimmune disease, her diagnosis of Sjogren Syndrome was not easy. At one point in time, Inaba saw her doctor and revealed that her eyes have been dry for years and asked if she was suffering from the condition. Her doctor said no. It wasn’t until many years that she was diagnosed with Sjogren by a rheumatologist. While talking about her diagnosis, she noted, “Getting the diagnosis was overwhelming and I went through a period of depression and anxiety. That was probably because I was not diagnosed for so long.”


Sjogren Syndrome is an incurable autoimmune disease that can cause a lot of pain and fatigue. It wasn’t easy for her to cope with everything and revealed, “I was in so much pain, I just had to survive. I had to stay in bed three days a week, and I’m so fortunate because I had the kind of job where I could do that. There were days I could barely make my coffee because I was so exhausted.”

But the diagnosis also made her learn about herself and her body. According to her, it helped her evaluating who she is. She also revealed that she got to know about her real identity besides being a “sexy dancer chick”.

The choreographer has been coping with pain with yoga, craniosacral therapy, and Reiki. She recently put a picture on Instagram and noted that she is ready to be on ‘Dancing with the Stars’.



'Dancing with the Stars' returns to ABC with its 30th season on Monday, September 20th. 

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