Celine Dion's Stiff Person Syndrome: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment

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The legendary diva has taken a hiatus from singing and performing after announcing she's battling with a very rare neurological disorder. Read on to find out the symptoms and treatment of the illness.

Celine Dion is a renowned singer with a career spanning over three decades. She has sold over 200 million records worldwide, making her one of the best-selling female artists of all time. Some of her most popular hits include My Heart Will Go On, The Power of Love, and Because You Loved Me. As one of the most in-demand artists, Celine's world tours have always drawn a massive audience.

Celine Dion's Stiff Person Syndrome: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment David M. Benett

However, the legendary singer has been forced to delay several dates on her world tour after she was diagnosed with Stiff Person Syndrome, a very rare neurological disorder. Since battling with the condition, Celine has stepped out of the spotlight and kept a low profile.

Back in December 2022, the My Heart Will Go On singer shared the news in a tearful Instagram video:

'As you know, I’ve always been an open book, and I wasn’t ready to say anything before, but I’m ready now. I’ve been dealing with problems with my health for a long time, and it’s been really difficult for me to face these challenges and to talk about everything that I’ve been going through.'

As we're still waiting for the legend to recover, let's take a closer look at the disease and how to treat it properly.

What is Stiff Person Syndrome?

Stiff Person Syndrome (SPS) is a rare neurological disorder that causes uncontrolled episodes of muscle spasms and stiffness. It is a progressive disorder that can ultimately impede walking and other basic daily functioning skills.

According to Healthline, SPS is an autoimmune disorder that occurs when your immune system incorrectly identifies healthy body tissues as harmful and attacks them.

Celine Dion's Stiff Person Syndrome: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment grinvalds

SPS impacts approximately one in a million people, according to the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). The condition strikes women more often than men, and symptoms typically emerge during middle age. The disorder is also more common in people with autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

Symptoms of Stiff Person Syndrome

According to the National Institute of Health, the most notable symptom of SPS is muscle stiffness. The symptoms include limb stiffness, stiff muscles in the trunk, posture problems from rigid back muscles that can cause you to hunch over, painful muscle spasms, walking difficulties, and sensory issues such as sensitivity to light, noise, and sound. SPS spasms can be very strong and may cause you to fall if standing. They can sometimes be strong enough to break bones. The spasms may be worse when you’re anxious or upset. Sudden movements, loud noise, or touching can also trigger involuntary spasms.

Celine Dion's Stiff Person Syndrome: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment Peter Dazeley

When living with SPS, you may also have depression or anxiety. This may be caused by other symptoms you might be experiencing or a decrease in neurotransmitters in the brain.

Furthermore, you may experience increased muscle stiffness and rigidity in the later stages of SPS. Worse, muscle stiffness can also affect other body parts, such as your face and the muscles used for eating and talking. Muscles involved in breathing may also be affected, causing life-threatening breathing problems, according to the North Shore University.

Causes of Stiff Person Syndrome

People with SPS have antibodies that attack proteins in the brain neurons that control muscle movements. These proteins can be glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD), gephyrin, or gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). The reason some people develop SPS is unknown, however.

There are some risk factors, but not everyone who develops SPS has the associated risk factors. SPS may co-exist with other autoimmune diseases such as pernicious anemia, vitiligo, type 1 diabetes, celiac disease, and autoimmune thyroid disease, reports the Mayo Clinic.

Treatment for Stiff Person Syndrome

According to Everyday Health, there is no cure for SPS, but treatments are available to help manage the symptoms. Muscle spasms and stiffness may be treated with medications such as muscle relaxers like baclofen, benzodiazepines like diazepam or clonazepam, anti-seizure medications like gabapentin, and anticonvulsants like pregabalin.

Celine Dion's Stiff Person Syndrome: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment Norden Adril

These medications can help stop the condition from getting worse and improve the quality of life of the affected person:

  • Muscle relaxers such as baclofen
  • Benzodiazepines such as diazepam (Valium) or clonazepam (Klonopin).
  • Anti-seizure medications like gabapentin (Neurontin)
  • Anticonvulsants such as pregabalin (Lyrica)

When will Celine Dion return to music?

According to Hello, all of the singer's world tours have been delayed to 2024.

However, her website indicates that her 2023 shows for the latter half of the year (from August to October) will remain unchanged. Unfortunately, considering the severe condition Celine is struggling with, it is uncertain whether she would be able to return to performing by the.

Read more:

Celine Dion reveals she has an incurable neurological syndrome

© Marc Piasecki