Celine Dion’s health has been in the headlines since the singer revealed earlier in 2023 that she had a serious condition that prevented her from taking the stage.
What is this case? Is it dangerous to her health? How did the famous pop legend deal with this serious disease? But what is this disease? Why is it called stiff person syndrome? This is what you will know through this article. Follow us:
In this Article
Celine Dion’s Illness Story!
The year 2023 was not a good one for the famous singer Celine Dion, as earlier this year, Dion canceled the remaining performances of her world tour because she suffers from a serious neurological condition, called stiff person syndrome.
The 55-year-old pop legend announced in May 2023 that she had halted the remaining shows on her Courage world tour, including those set for 2024, sadly writing that the schedule change was made with a feeling of “tremendous disappointment.”
Sadly, just five months ago, Dion revealed that she had been diagnosed with a rare neurological disorder called stiff person syndrome, which can lead to a stiff body, in addition to spasms.
Celine Dion’s Health Condition
Dion last spoke about her health condition in May 2023, when she began treatment for stiff person syndrome, especially since the disease affected the performance of her songs on stage, causing her activity to stop completely.
At the time she announced the cancellation of the rest of her tour, Dion wrote on her website with a sigh that she was “working hard to rebuild her strength,” adding that touring can be very difficult even for people who are in peak health, but stressed that she was “not giving up.” And she is determined to return to the stage at some point.
“I can’t wait to see you again!” she told fans in a touching message.
Celine’s Canceled Tours
Before being diagnosed with Stiff Person Syndrome, Celine’s last major projects were the prequels to her Courage World Tour, completing 52 shows in North America and beginning filming her first film in 2021. She starred in Love Again alongside Priyanka Chopra and Sam Heughan. She has also recorded several songs for the film’s soundtrack, including “Love Again.”
Celine Dion’s Chances to Sing Again
It is not clear whether Dion will be able to perform again, and her tour cancellation announcement in May 2023 explained that symptoms of stiff person syndrome (severe and persistent muscle spasms) prevented her from performing.
However, the singer and her team said that they expect that she will be able to perform again at some point in May, for example, and Dion also confirmed that she is trying to regain her strength with the goal of hitting the stage. At that time, her team stated again that they had every hope that she would soon be able to tour. in Europe.
“Some people are able to live with the symptoms of stiff person syndrome because everyone’s condition is different,” says Dr. Decimir Mijatovic, a pain medicine specialist at Cleveland Clinic. “Many people are able to recover to the point where their condition becomes stable, and their condition will not get worse anymore,” he adds: “They can continue to live a fairly normal life.”
Dr. Mijatovic is not involved in Dion’s treatment, but he said it’s not outside the realm of possibility that Dion could perform again. This is his opinion. He adds: “People like Celine are often able to do a lot of amazing work, and I definitely think that’s something that’s possible.”
Dion’s Description of Her Condition
Dion spoke about her diagnosis of stiff person syndrome in a video posted to her Instagram page in December 2022.
“We now know that this is the cause of all the spasms I was experiencing,” she said. “Unfortunately, these spasms affect every aspect of my daily life, sometimes causing difficulties when walking and not allowing me to use my vocal cords to sing the way I used to.”
She added that she was working with a sports medicine therapist to rebuild her strength, but admitted that it was a struggle and suffering.
There is certainly no cure for stiff person syndrome, although symptoms can be controlled with certain medications, as well as physical, occupational and aquatic therapy.
Now let us learn more about stiff person syndrome, its causes, and the best ways to treat it
Stiff Person Syndrome
It is a rare autoimmune neurological disorder. This is its brief definition. People with this condition usually suffer from muscle stiffness in the trunk and abdomen (the middle part of the body), and over time they also suffer from stiffness and spasms in their legs and other muscles. Walking may become difficult for them. They also become more vulnerable to falls and injuries.
Stiff person syndrome used to be called “stiff man syndrome”, but the name has been updated to be more inclusive, as the disorder can affect people of any age and gender.
Stiff Person Syndrome Types
There are several different subtypes or classifications of SPS, including:
Classic Stiff Person Syndrome
This is the most common form in the world, and is associated with antibodies to GAD (glutamic acid decarboxylase), although studies have revealed other associations with antibodies.
There are many variants of SPS that can involve specific parts of the body or involve more pronounced asymmetry (ataxia).
Progressive Encephalomyelitis with Rigidity and Myoclonus (PERM)
It is the most serious type of SPS, as it causes decreased consciousness, eye movement problems, ataxia, and autonomic dysfunction. PERM usually requires hospital care due to autonomic dysfunction.
Who Suffers from Stiff Person Syndrome
Women are twice as likely to develop this syndrome as men. SPS can develop at any age, but symptoms often begin in the 30s and 40s.
SPS is also associated with the presence of other autoimmune diseases, such as:
SPS is a very rare disease, about one in every million people suffer from this syndrome.
Also read: Iron Deficiency – Methods of Treatment
Stiff Person Syndrome Symptoms
We would like to remind you, my dear, of the two most important symptoms of this rare disease:
1- Muscle stiffness.
2- Painful muscle spasms.
SPS symptoms can spread to other parts of the body and may get worse over time. Symptoms can take several months to a few years to develop. Some people’s symptoms remain the same for years without any improvement, while others experience slowly worsening symptoms, including severe spasm and stiffness, which can limit their ability to perform activities of daily living.
We explain these symptoms below:
1. Muscle Stiffness
In most cases of SPS, the trunk muscles (abdominal, chest, and back) are the first to develop stiffness, and this stiffness causes ongoing pain and discomfort.
These symptoms can vary in severity without a clear cause or trigger. They can also affect your arms and legs, with increased stiffness, which in some people can develop into an abnormal posture that may make the affected person have difficulty walking or moving.
2. Muscle Spasms
Painful muscle spasms are another symptom of SPS that can involve your entire body or just a specific area. These spasms can last for a few seconds, minutes, or sometimes a few hours.
There are some reasons that can affect the level and worsening of symptoms:
Convulsions can be provoked by:
- Unexpected or loud noises.
- Physical touch or stimulation.
- Temperature changes, including cold environments.
- Nervous psychological events or traumas.
Because of the unpredictable triggers of muscle spasms, which may occur suddenly, some people with SPS develop anxiety and agoraphobia, which is an intense fear of entering open or crowded places or leaving their homes, because it is difficult to avoid the causes of muscle spasms in public places and for fear of injuries that may occur.
Stiff Person Syndrome Causes
Researchers don’t know the exact cause of stiff person syndrome, but they believe it is a type of autoimmune disease, a disease in which your immune system attacks healthy cells for unknown reasons.
Stiff Person Syndrome Diagnosis
Stiff person syndrome can be difficult to treat, because it is rare and its symptoms are similar to other conditions such as ankylosing spondylitis, multiple sclerosis or other autoimmune diseases. Your health care provider may perform several tests to rule out these conditions and look for specific signs of stiff person syndrome.
They will ask you questions about your symptoms and perform a physical examination and a neurological examination. If your doctor suspects stiff person syndrome, tests to confirm the diagnosis may include:
- Blood test for antibodies:
A blood test can check for the presence of GAD antibodies.
- Electromyography (EMG):
This test measures electrical activity in your muscles and can help rule out other causes of your symptoms.
- Lumbar puncture (spinal tap):
During a lumbar puncture, the doctor uses a needle to withdraw fluid from the spinal canal to check for the presence of antibodies to SPS. He will also look for other signs that may indicate or rule out other diseases.
Stiff Person Syndrome Treatment
Treatment for stiff person syndrome depends on the symptoms you are experiencing. The goal of treatment is to relieve symptoms, improve the ability to move as normally as possible, and relieve pain and discomfort.
The two main treatment strategies include:
- Medications and treatments to treat symptoms.
- Immunotherapy or disease-modifying therapy.
Your health care team may include several specialists, such as neurologists and, more specifically, neuroimmunologists, occupational and physical therapists, physical medicine and rehabilitation specialists, speech therapists, and mental health specialists such as psychologists.
Medications that can help reduce stiffness, and painful muscle spasms include:
1- Benzodiazepines: Benzodiazepines are a class of medications that treat a variety of conditions, such as anxiety, seizures, and insomnia. They affect GABA signaling, and health care providers often prescribe diazepam as a first-line treatment for SPS.
2- Muscle relaxants: Baclofen can help treat muscle spasms, as it works to relax your muscles, which reduces muscle stiffness.
3- Neuropathic pain medications: Medications such as gabapentin and pregabalin also affect GABA signaling and can help treat the symptoms of stiff person syndrome.
Treatments that may also help treat symptoms include:
- Physical treatment.
- Heat treatment.
There is some evidence to suggest that treatment with IVIG (a type of immunotherapy) can improve symptoms in some people with SPS.
IVIG contains immunoglobulin (natural antibodies produced by your immune system) donated by thousands of people with healthy immune systems.
Finally, a question comes to mind: Can stiff person syndrome be treated?
There is currently no cure, treatment is limited only to treating the symptoms.
Stiff Person Syndrome Prevention
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” says this important rule that is effective in most diseases, but can I prevent stiff person syndrome?
Experts say that because SPS is an autoimmune condition, there’s nothing you can do to prevent it, so there’s currently nothing you can do to prevent it.
Expectations about the Patient’s Future
SPS is a chronic condition that lasts a lifetime, and the patient’s future outlook may vary from one patient to another based on several factors, including:
- Severity of symptoms.
- How quickly the condition develops.
- How well the treatment works.
Start treatment quickly:
As with most diseases, starting treatment soon after symptoms appear is essential to prevent or reduce the progression of the syndrome and avoid long-term complications. Most people with SPS improve with medications, but it is still difficult to control the triggers that cause muscle spasms.
Over time, walking can become more difficult. Your ability to perform daily routine tasks may also decrease over time. The increased risk of falling while walking becomes a growing concern as SPS worsens. Some people may need to use a cane, walker, or wheelchair to get by. for help.
Living with the Syndrome
How do I take care of myself if I have SPS?
If possible, try to find health care that specializes in living with and treating stiff person syndrome. Since this syndrome is rare, it may be somewhat difficult to find, so you may have to advocate for yourself to make sure you get the best medical care that can help you get the best quality of life.
People with SPS are likely to develop symptoms of anxiety or depression associated with this condition. If you are experiencing mental health symptoms it is important to talk to your doctor or mental health professional such as a therapist or psychiatrist.
You and your family may also want to consider joining a support group to meet other people who are struggling like you and can relate to your experiences.
When Should You See Your Doctor?
If you have this syndrome, you will need to see your health care team regularly to check if your treatment is working and to monitor the progression of your symptoms.
If you notice new symptoms or side effects of your medications, talk to your doctor who may adjust them or change them completely.
Ask your doctor if you suffer from stiff person syndrome. It may be helpful to ask your doctor the following questions:
- What treatment do you recommend based on my symptoms?
- What can I do at home to prevent my symptoms?
- What signs of complications should I look for?
- What do I expect to happen to my health in the future?
In conclusion, given the seriousness of the symptoms that result from stiffness, it is important to ensure that you get the support you need and to remain attentive to your health. Know that you need the support of family, friends, and sick partners, in addition to of course your health care team, which will be dedicated to supporting you and your family.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is multiple sclerosis the same as stiff person syndrome?
No, despite the similarity between them, multiple sclerosis forms antibodies to myelin, while stiff person syndrome forms antibodies that attack the GAD complex.
How many concerts did Celine Dion cancel in Europe due to her sudden illness?
The famous Canadian singer canceled more than 40 concerts in Europe.
Is Celine Dion in a wheelchair?
No, not at all. Twitter users shared a video of a woman in a wheelchair at a wedding. Some thought she was Celine Dion, who denied this and appeared announcing a new song that she would release soon.
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