Céline Dion Has Been Diagnosed With Stiff Person Syndrome, a Rare Neurological Disorder

Céline Dion shared a tearful update on her health in a clip shared to Instagram. The Canadian singer began by admitting that she has been “dealing with problems with [her] health for a long time.” Now she finally understands why. 

“Recently, I’ve been diagnosed with a very rare neurological condition called Stiff Person Syndrome, which affects something like one in a million people,” Dion said in the video. “While we’re still learning about this rare condition, we now know that this is what has been causing all of the spasms that I’ve been having.”

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Dion said the disease has impacted her ability to walk and sing. According to the Cleveland Clinic, stiff person syndrome (SPS) is an “autoimmune movement disorder that affects the central nervous system,” including the brain and spinal cord. The condition, which is characterized by progressive muscle stiffness, typically attacks the muscles in the trunk and abdomen first, but the rigidity can spread to the legs, arms, and face. Per the clinic, SPS “can also cause painful muscle spasms” that “occur randomly or can be triggered by noise, emotional distress, and light physical touch.” 

In the clip, the beloved songstress discusses how the diagnosis will affect her upcoming Courage World Tour. Coping with the symptoms of SPS, she says, has been “a struggle.” But with the help of her children and a “great team of doctors,” including a sports medicine therapist, Dion is doing “everything I can to recuperate” and rebuild the strength needed to perform. That said, she will not be ready to start touring in Europe in February. Eight of her summer 2023 shows have been cancelled, and all of her spring 2023 shows have been rescheduled to 2024. Instead, she will concentrate on her health

Managing and treating the incurable disorder can be an ongoing battle, lasting years for some. The Cleveland Clinic notes that “the severity of the syndrome and speed of decline varies from person to person,” but SPS is more common in women than men and usually develops between the ages of 30 and 60 years old. Yale Medicine says that doctors can prescribe medications including sedatives, muscle relaxants, and steroids; immunotherapies such as intravenous immunoglobulin and plasmapheresis; and other modalities like physical, occupational, and aqua therapy.

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