What is stiff person syndrome, the disorder affecting Celine Dion’s ability to sing?

Celine Dion revealed in a moving and announcement filled with tears Thursday that she had to postpone her next European tour after being diagnosed with a “very rare neurological disorder”: stiff person syndrome.

The debilitating disease impacted her ability to sing and walk.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, stiff-person syndrome, otherwise known as Moersch-Woltman syndrome, is a “rare neurological disorder with features of an autoimmune disease.” . The disease makes the body rigid and more sensitive to noise, touch and emotional distress. This heightened sensitivity can cause muscle spasms, as well as “hunched and stiff” postures, according to the institute.

According to the Stiff Person Syndrome Research Foundation, the muscle spasms, which Dion says he experienced, “can be so violent that they can dislocate joints and even break bones.”

Dion said the spasms affected “every aspect” of her daily life, from causing problems with her ability to walk to preventing her from using her vocal cords to sing the way she does. the habit.

The disease, which affects twice as many women as men, according to the institute, renders many people too disabled to “walk or move”. Many people are “afraid to leave their homes”, adds the institute, “because street noises, such as the sound of a car horn, can trigger spasms and falls”, explain its researchers.

According to the Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center, fewer than 5,000 people in the United States have the disease.

However, little is known about him. It is often misdiagnosed like other autoimmune diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease or a combination of anxiety and phobia. But researchers believe it could instead be caused by an “incorrect” bodily response in the brain and spinal cord.

Treatment for the condition typically includes high doses of diazepam, also known as Valium, which is often used to help relieve anxiety and alcohol withdrawal, according to the Mayo Clinic. People with stiff-person syndrome also often take “multiple anticonvulsants,” including gabapentin and tiagabine, the institute said.

Although Dion didn’t reveal her specific treatment, she said she was working with a sports medicine therapist and a “great team of doctors.”

Treatment can help improve symptoms, but there is no cure for the disorder.


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