Celine Dion says she has a rare neurological disease, stiff person syndrome. The superstar claims that this disease affected his vocal cords and impaired his ability to sing.
Celine Dion says she suffers from a rare neurological disorder called stiff person syndrome, and it has forced her to postpone several dates of her world tour. In a tearful Instagram video, the singer revealed that the incurable disease caused painful spasms and impacted her ability to walk and sing.
“As you know, I’ve always been an open book, and I wasn’t ready to say anything before, but I’m ready now,” Dion said in the video. “I’ve been dealing with health issues for a long time, and it’s been really hard for me to deal with those challenges and talk about everything I’ve been through.”
“Recently, I was diagnosed with a very rare neurological disorder called stiff-person syndrome, which affects approximately one in a million people,” Dion continues. “Although we are still learning more about this rare disease, we now know that it is the cause of all the spasms I have had. Unfortunately, these spasms affect all aspects of my daily life, sometimes causing difficulty when walking and not allowing me to use my vocal cords to sing as I normally do. »
What is stiff person syndrome?
Stiff person syndrome affects approximately one in a million people. It strikes women more often than men, and symptoms usually appear in middle age. This condition is also more common in people with autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Stiff person syndrome is characterized by progressive muscle stiffness and repeated episodes of debilitating muscle spasms. But the progression of symptoms is not linear, and the severity and frequency of symptoms vary from patient to patient. Sufferers tend to go through repeated cycles of getting worse and then getting better. Muscle spasms can be random, and they can also be triggered in some people by a series of sensory experiences, such as exposure to an unexpected noise or sudden physical contact.
What is the cause of stiff person syndrome?
Although the exact cause is unknown, some scientists believe the syndrome may be a type of autoimmune disorder that develops when the immune system mistakenly attacks cells in the brain and spinal cord. The immune system appears to attack a protein known as glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD), which helps produce a protein called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA regulates motor neurons that control movement throughout the body, and when this protein is in short supply, the nervous system can kick into high gear and interfere with normal movement. Up to 80% of patients with stiff person syndrome have antibodies in their blood and spinal fluid that show their immune system is attacking GABA proteins.
How is stiff person syndrome diagnosed?
Diagnosis of stiff-person syndrome involves blood and cerebrospinal fluid tests to look for antibodies to GAD. Patients may also undergo an electromyography (EMG) test, which examines the electrical activity of skeletal muscles and can help identify spasms. Also, doctors work to rule out other potential causes of muscle spasms and pain, such as Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, or anxiety.
How is stiff person syndrome treated?
There is no cure for stiff person syndrome, nor a clear way to prevent it. Instead, treatment focuses on managing symptoms and reducing the disability associated with this condition. Patients may be prescribed drugs known as benzodiazepines or baclofen, a muscle relaxant, to reduce stiffness and muscle spasms. Also, some people may take anticonvulsants, anti-inflammatories, or corticosteroids to reduce pain.
Other treatment options include intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG), an infusion of antibodies from healthy donors that can prevent the body from attacking itself; plasmapheresis, a procedure that involves removing and replacing the patient’s blood plasma. Additionally, there are approaches aimed at improving muscle function and minimizing pain, such as physiotherapy, massage, water therapy, heat therapy, and acupuncture.
Celine Dion says living with stiff person syndrome has been difficult
“I have a great team of doctors working by my side to help me get better, and my precious children, who support me and give me hope,” Celine Dion said in the video.
She did not specify what treatments she was undergoing for stiff person syndrome. But she said her road to recovery has been difficult. “I work hard with my sports medicine therapist every day to regain my strength and my ability to perform again, but I have to admit it has been a struggle,” she said. “I always give 100 percent when I do my shows, but my condition doesn’t allow me to give you that right now.”