Celine Dion revealed to fans on Thursday that she had been diagnosed with a rare neurological disorder known as “stiff person syndrome.” But what is it exactly?
According to Yale Medicine, stiff-person syndrome is an autoimmune neurological disorder that can cause “alternation between rigidity and spasms” of muscles in the torso and limbs. In other words, the “muscles can sometimes rebel against us”.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke notes that it can also lead to “increased sensitivity to stimuli such as noise, touch, and emotional distress, which can trigger muscle spasms.”
Dion said the symptoms can be debilitating.
“Unfortunately the spasms affect all aspects of my daily life, sometimes causing difficulty when walking and not allowing me to use my vocal cords to sing as I normally do,” she said. .
Dion said she had no choice but to postpone her “Courage” tour, which was set to resume in February after several delays. Its spring 2023 shows were moved to 2024 and its summer 2023 concerts were canceled.
“I miss you all, being on stage, playing for you. I always give 100% when I do my shows, but my condition doesn’t allow me to give that to you right now,” she said.
The disease is still considered extremely rare and no cause has been determined so far, although the NINDS reports that women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with it as men.
According to experts, the symptoms can sometimes be mistaken for things like Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, psychosomatic illness, etc. But the NINDS said a blood test can offer a “more definitive diagnosis”.
Symptoms can begin between the ages of 30 and 60, Yale Medicine reported.
Currently, there is no cure for the condition, but some treatment options may offer relief.
“People with stiff-person syndrome can have a spectrum ranging from mild to severe, and a personalized approach to treating the disease is the best way to ensure a better outcome,” said Dr. Richard Nowak, neurologist at Yale Medicine, in a statement.
According to health experts, people with this disorder are often treated with muscle relaxants, steroids, anticonvulsants, physical therapy and more.
Dion said improving has been a challenge.
“I work hard with my sports medicine therapist every day to rebuild my strength and my ability to perform again, but I have to admit it’s been a struggle,” she said. “All I know is sing. It’s what I’ve done all my life and it’s what I love doing the most. I miss you so much. I miss seeing you all, being on stage playing for you. I always give 100 percent when I do my shows, but my condition now allows me to give that to you now.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.