What Is Stiff Person Syndrome? Céline Dion's Incurable Neurological Disorder Explained

The singer shared details about her health with fans.

Staff Writer
Céline Dion singing live. Right: Céline Dion shared her diagnosis with Stiff Person Syndrome.

Céline Dion singing live. Right: Céline Dion shared her diagnosis with Stiff Person Syndrome.

Fans of Céline Dion have been wondering what exactly has been going on with her health for some time, but the singer broke the silence on Thursday morning. In an emotional video posted to social media, the star shared her recent diagnosis of Stiff Person Syndrome (SPS).

She explained that the "very rare neurological disorder" affects about "one in a million people," and that because of this illness, she won't be able to restart her tour in Europe in February 2023.

"I have no choice but to concentrate on my health at this moment," she said, thanking fans for their support.

Here's what to know about Stiff Person Syndrome and how Céline says it impacts her.

What are Stiff Person Syndrome symptoms?

According to the Cleveland Clinic, the rare disorder has to do with the nervous system, causing muscle stiffness and spasms brought on by stimuli that can include sudden movements, cold weather, loud noises, physical touch or stress. The institution also says symptoms can occur randomly.

It notes that people with SPS often first experience stiffness in the muscles of the abdomen, pelvis, chest and back. Over time, according to the clinic's SPS fact page, that stiffness develops in other muscles, including the ones in the legs, arms and face.

Eventually, the stiffness can produce an altered posture and difficulty moving.

Is Stiff-Person Syndrome painful?

Yes, this condition can engender brief or lasting painful muscle spasms.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, the spasms are sometimes so severe that patients risk limb dislocation, bone breaking or "uncontrolled falling. "

The clinic notes that in severe cases, the condition can greatly inhibit the ability to walk or otherwise move.

"Some people with this disorder need ongoing treatment for years to manage symptoms and maintain quality of life," it says.

Is Stiff Person Syndrome curable?

Yale Medicine confirms that there is no cure for Stiff Person Syndrome. Instead, the university's school of medicine explains, people can get prescriptions for medications, such as steroids, sedatives and muscle relaxants, to lessen their symptoms.

The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) conducts research on the condition. NINDS scientists don't know yet what causes it exactly, but say it appears to be the result of an "autoimmune response gone awry in the brain and spinal cord."

What are Céline Dion's Stiff Person Syndrome symptoms? 

In her video, Céline Dion says she has been dealing with health problems for a long time, including spasms that affect her daily life.

Sometimes, she said, she has difficulty walking. and she isn't able to use her voice to sing as well as we all know she can, hence the postponement of her tour.

The singer added that she is currently followed by a "great team of doctors," including a sports medicine therapist with whom she works every day to gain strength.

"I have hope that I'm on the road to recovery," Dion says.

Charlotte Hoareau
Staff Writer
Charlotte Hoareau is a Staff Writer for MTL Blog focused in things to do in Montreal and Montreal weather. She is based in Montreal, Quebec.
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