Lance Bass is getting candid about his journey with psoriatic arthritis.
The singer and dancer, 43, was diagnosed with the condition — which affects nearly 1 million Americans — five years ago after experiencing debilitating symptoms for quite some time.
“I had symptoms before, but you know, I kind of just dealt with it, not knowing exactly what it was. I was a dancer my whole life, so I just kind of figured it was because of dancing,” the *NSYNC alum tells PEOPLE, adding that he noticed patches of psoriasis on his scalp while dealing with excruciating joint pain.
“It definitely started in my shoulders and then in my knees,” he continues. “And again, to me, that was just such a sign of dancer pain, so I just thought it was completely normal, totally ignoring the signs.”
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“Psoriatic arthritis is a form of arthritis that can affect people who have psoriasis and is caused by overactive inflammation of cells inside the body,” says Alvin F. Wells, MD, Ph.D, director of the Rheumatology and Immunotherapy Center in Oak Creek , Wisconsin. “Symptoms such as scalp psoriasis or pitted nails, in addition to joint pain, could point to psoriatic arthritis.”
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While Dr. Wells says there are numerous treatments that can help those who live with the condition, like eating a healthy diet, exercising, getting ample amount of sleep, and taking medications, like Otezla — which Bass does not take — one of the most important things when it comes to psoriatic arthritis is the signs, which is why Bass teamed up with Amgen for their new campaign.
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“We had to do something fun to entertain people, and we do live in a TikTok world, so we created the Double Take campaign, which aims to empower people to recognize the potential early signs of psoriatic arthritis,” Bass tells PEOPLE, adding that one of his “favorite” choreographers, SJ Bleau, helped him come up with a “fun and educational dance” to help spread awareness.
“We wanted to make it very easy for people out there. Kids and adults alike can enjoy this dance — it’s our take on the ‘head, shoulders, knees, and toes,'” he explains. “It’s a dance where you’ll recognize the signs and conditions through your nails, your knees, your hips, and your head, and we just want to make sure people take a double take. If you feel those symptoms, make sure you talk to your doctor about it.”
Bass also tells PEOPLE he’s grateful for finally getting a diagnosis — not only for himself, but for his adorable twins, Violet Betty and Alexander James, whom he welcomed with husband Michael Turchin via surrogate in October last year.
“My shoulders were the main problem for me, and if I would’ve had kids five years ago, I don’t even know if I would’ve been able to feed my kids and hold them in a certain way because you use your shoulders so much,” he says. “I’m glad I got that under control before the kids came so that I can actually hold them without being in such excruciating pain.”