What is stiff-person syndrome? Celine Dion reveals incurable diagnosis

los angeles, ca   march 02  singer celine dion attends disneys beauty and the beast premiere at el capitan theatre on march 2, 2017 in los angeles, california  photo by frazer harrisongetty images
Celine Dion shares her incurable health condition Frazer Harrison - Getty Images

Celine Dion took to Instagram yesterday (8 December) to share that she has an incurable rare neurological disorder.

During the emotional video that she posted, the singer shared that she has been dealing with health issues for quite “a long time”, but now she has recently been diagnosed with stiff-person syndrome.

As Celine begins to explain, the condition affects one in a million people. “I wasn’t ready to say anything before, but I'm ready now,” Celine said.

“While we’re still learning about this rare condition, we now know this is what’s been causing all of the spasms that I’ve been having.”

Celine goes on to explain that the spasms have been affecting “every aspect” of her life, causing difficulties when walking and when she sings. The 54-year-old shared that, due to her condition, she has had to postpone her spring 2023 European shows of her world tour to 2024, and cancelling eight of her summer shows from May to July.

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“All I know is singing is what I've done all my life and it's what I love to do the most. I miss you so much and seeing all of you. Performing for you. But my condition is not allowing me to give you that right now.”

Celine continues to share that she is prioritising focusing on her health in order to be able to perform again. She also acknowledged fans for their support and wishes: “I love you guys so much and I really hope I can see you again real soon.”

“I have a great team of doctors working alongside me to help me get better,” she said in the video. “And my precious children, who are supporting me and giving me hope. I’m working hard with my sports medicine therapist every day to build back my strength and my ability to perform again,” she continued, “But I have to admit, it’s been a struggle.”

What is stiff-person syndrome?

Stiff-person syndrome, or SPS, is “characterised by fluctuating muscle rigidity in the trunk and limbs and a heightened sensitivity to stimuli such as noise, touch, and emotional distress, which can set off muscle spasms,” according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Over time people with SPS may develop abnormal, often hunched over postures. Some people may not be able to walk or move at all. Many fall frequently because they do not have the normal reflexes to catch themselves.

Scientists don’t yet understand what causes SPS, but research indicates that it is the result of an autoimmune response gone wrong in the brain and spinal cord.

Who does stiff-person syndrome affect?

Research from the Stiff Person Syndrome Centre at Johns Hopkins Medicine says the condition affects about one in a million people. The first case was reported in the 1950s and was referred to originally as ‘stiff man syndrome’.

Despite its initial name, the condition is found to affect twice as many women as men.

Is there a cure or treatment for stiff-person syndrome?

While there is no cure for SPS known just yet, there are treatments – including anti-anxiety medicines and muscle relaxants – that can have been shown to slow its progression in cases.

We’re sending all the love and strength to Celine❤️.

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