Céline Dion Has Stiff-Person Syndrome — Here's What That Is

The singer has "hope" after being diagnosed with a rare neurological disorder.

Celine Dion
Getty Images.

Céline Dion revealed she has Stiff-Person Syndrome (SPS), a rare neurological disorder that causes muscles spasms and affects her singing abilities, in a video on Instagram.

The singer speaks directly to her fans in the clip, seemingly holding back tears as she announces the news, including the fact that she'll be postponing upcoming concert dates to focus on her health. She also expresses how much she misses being on stage and is looking forward to her return.

"As you know, I've always been an open book," says Dion. "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," she explains.

"Recently, I've been diagnosed with a very rare neurological disorder called Stiff-Person Syndrome, which affects something like one in a million people," the 54-year-old continues. The condition is characterized by muscle rigidity in the body and heightened sensitivity to stimuli, including noise, touch, and emotional distress, which can cause muscle spasms, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS).

People with SPS may have trouble walking and moving and may be afraid to leave the house due to outside stimulus that could trigger muscle spasms. It affects twice as many women as men, and is often associated with other autoimmune diseases such as diabetes and vitiligo, reports the NINDS.

"While we're still learning about this rare condition, we now know this is what's been causing all of the spasms that I've been having," says Dion in the recent video. "Unfortunately, these spasms affect every aspect of my daily life, sometimes causing difficulties when I walk and not allowing me to use my vocal cords to sing the way I'm used to."

It's not clear what causes SPS, but research suggests it's the result of an autoimmune response in the brain and spinal cord, according to the NINDS. The condition is often misdiagnosed as Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, or anxiety.

"I have a great team of doctors working alongside me to help me get better and my precious children, who are supporting me and giving me hope," say Dion. "I'm working hard with my sports medicine therapist every day to build back my strength and my ability to perform again, but I have to admit, it's been a struggle."

Treatments, such as anti-anxiety drugs, muscle relaxants, anti-convulsants, and pain relievers, can help control symptoms of SPS, but they can't cure the disorder, notes the NINDS.

Dion has postponed concert dates until 2024 to focus on her health. "I always give 100 percent when I do my shows, but my condition is not allowing me to give you that right now," she says. "For me to reach you again, I have no choice but to concentrate on my health at this moment. And I have hope that I'm on the road to recovery."

The "My Heart Will Go On" singer ends the video with a message of gratitude for her fans who show her love and support on social media. "This means a lot to me," she says. "Take care of yourselves. Be well. I love you guys so much, and I really hope I can see you again real soon."

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