What Is Stiff Person Syndrome? Celine Dion Disease Diagnosis Explained

She’s one of the hardest working singers in the business and loved by everyone, but Celine Dion has had to cancel a number of shows after she was diagnosed with a rare neurological condition. So what is Stiff Person Syndrome, the illness that’s paused your career?

In a tearful video shared to Instagram on Dec. 8, 2022, the Canadian pop star explained that she’s “been struggling with issues with my health for a long time and it’s been really difficult for me to face these challenges and over.” speaking everything I’ve been through,” the 54-year-old explained. “It pains me to tell you that I will not be ready to resume my tour in Europe in February. She went on to say that she suffers from painful spasms that “interfere with her daily life” and that she was recently diagnosed with stiff person syndrome, a rare neurological disorder that affects around one in a million people. Here’s what you need to know about stiff person syndrome and if there’s a cure.

What is stiff person syndrome?

Stiff-person syndrome (SPS) is a rare neurological and neuromuscular disorder that causes progressive muscle stiffness and painful spasms, according to the Johns Hopkins Medical Center. Seizures can be triggered by a number of things, including but not limited to sudden movement, cold temperatures, or unexpected loud noises. The cause is currently unknown; But research suggests this is the result of an autoimmune response gone wrong in the brain and spinal cord, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. SPS is also commonly associated with other autoimmune diseases such as diabetes, thyroiditis, vitiligo, and pernicious anemia.

John Hopkins neurologist Dr. Scott Newsome explained in a video that it is a “devastating” and incurable disease, affecting approximately one in a million people worldwide, although as the medical community gains a better understanding of the condition, it is “probably more common than that is”. The current statistic is based on what he considers the “classic” symptoms of stiff-person syndrome, first described in the 1950s as patients with “rigid” core muscles, tightness in their legs, and “terrible spasms in literally every muscle of the body.” body,” although it occurs most commonly in the lower body. A definitive diagnosis is made with a blood test, spinal tap, and electromyography.

According to the Stiff Person Syndrome Research Foundation, “Patients may be disabled, wheelchair bound or bedridden, unable to work and support themselves,” they say, adding that the neurological disorder with autoimmune traits causes symptoms such as hyperrigidity , debilitating pain, chronic anxiety” and muscle spasms “so severe they can dislocate joints and even break bones”. Because of its early symptoms, stiff-person syndrome is often confused with multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, fibromyalgia, psychosomatic disorders, anxiety, phobias, and other autoimmune disorders.

Celine Dion

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“Sometimes they get labeled ‘crazy,'” said Dr. Newsome, “because on examination early there aren’t the hallmarks of stiff-person syndrome … But on average, because it’s so rare and how early it occurs. The disease can mimic many other conditions, it takes about seven years to develop.” People are diagnosed, from the onset of symptoms to diagnosis.” Dion explained in her video on Instagram that “these spasms affect every aspect of my daily life, sometimes causing difficulty walking and not allowing me to use my vocal cords, like that to sing like I’m used to.” She announced that she had to push back a number of tour dates to 2024.

It is now clear that this debilitating illness was also the reason for her cancellation in January 2022, with a press release citing “severe and persistent muscle spasms” that had prevented her from performing. Thankfully, Dion has “an amazing team of doctors who work with me to help me get better. And my precious children who support me and give me hope,” she said. “I’m working hard every day with my sports medicine doctor to build my strength and capacity back up, but I have to admit it’s been a struggle.”

What is the treatment for stiff person syndrome?

Treating stiff person syndrome can be cumbersome, and while it’s a currently incurable condition, it can be managed with a range of medications and therapies. People with SPS tend to respond to high doses of diazepam and several antiseizure drugs such as gabapentin and tiagabine. Valium can also be effective as it is a muscle relaxant. There is also another somewhat surprising drug. “Often we give patients with stiff person syndrome Botox,” explained Dr. Newsome in another video, “especially if they have trouble with spasticity or tightness…which is interesting in and of itself, but it helps with some of the stiffness and spasms that our patients can suffer from.” In a report from the In 2003, a 41-year-old patient was shown to have a “significant” improvement in her symptoms after receiving a Botox injection into her muscles.

Celine Dion, Aquatherapy

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dr Newsome explained that physical therapy can be a great adjunct to medication, although “you have to be very careful about the type of physical therapy you do” because some treatments can make stiff-person syndrome worse. He recommends deep-tissue techniques, ultrasound, heat, and water therapies in a warm pool because cold can “exacerbate” symptoms. As NINDS and Dion noted, people with SPS also have challenges in daily life: “Most people with SPS fall frequently and because they lack normal defensive reflexes; Injuries can be serious. With appropriate treatment, symptoms are usually well controlled.”

To wrap up her emotional announcement, Dion said she misses her fans and is on stage to perform for them. “I always give 100 percent when I do my shows, but my condition doesn’t allow me to give that to you right now,” she said. “For the sake of getting back to you, I have no choice but to focus on my health at this moment. And I have hope that I’m on the mend. That’s what I’m concentrating on and I’m doing everything I can to recover. I want to thank you so much for your encouraging wishes of love and support on my social media. It means a lot to me.” In a tearful signoff, she said, “Take care. Be good. I love you guys so much and I really hope to see you guys again soon. Thank you very much.”

Celine Dion

Courtesy of Amazon/William Morrow Publishers

If you want to know more about Celine Dion, don’t miss her passionate and honest autobiography. My story, my dream, who chronicles her early life to become the “international singing sensation” loved around the world. This touching memoir takes readers behind the scenes, behind the scenes, and to her early career breakthroughs, as well as her textbook romance and eventual marriage to Rene Angelil, her manager and soulmate. This is an intimate, sometimes funny, and ultimately heartfelt look at an unparalleled talent in the industry, as she puts it. See Why Critics Called Celine Dion’s My story, my dream “a remarkable” reflection on the life and career of a pop star.


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