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Celine Dion Tells Fans of Debilitating Stiff Person Syndrome Diagnosis

In an Instagram video posted in December 2022, Grammy-award winning vocalist Celine Dion struggled to fight back tears as she announced the cancellation of her touring schedule. She explained that her singing career must be halted as she navigates her recent diagnosis of Stiff Person Syndrome, a disabling condition impacting the central nervous system.

During the emotional clip, the 54-year-old entertainer explained that, while she hasn’t been vocal about her puzzling condition, she’s battled alarming health issues for a while. Now, with an accurate diagnosis, Dion has an explanation as to why she’s experiencing debilitating symptoms that significantly impact her ability to function as she normally would.

More about Stiff Person Syndrome

Stiff Person Syndrome, as defined by The Stiff Person Syndrome Research Foundation, is a neurological disease with autoimmune features. Symptoms of this very rare condition — which is estimated to affect roughly one or two in a million people — include muscle spasms, hyper-rigidity, debilitating pain and chronic anxiety. In some instances, muscle spasms can be so violent that they can dislocate joints and/or break bones.

The National Organization for Rare Disorders indicates that the medical community doesn’t have all the answers pertaining to Stiff Person Syndrome. In fact, it is considered by many researchers to be a spectrum of diseases, ranging from the involvement of just one area of the body to a widespread, rapidly progressive form that also includes the involvement of the brain stem and spinal cord. The Stiff Person Syndrome Research Foundation also notes that Stiff Person Syndrome is often mistaken as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, fibromyalgia, psychosomatic illness, anxiety, phobia and other conditions. That’s why, in some cases, receiving a proper diagnosis takes years.

“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,” she explained. “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.”


Celine Dion, Stiff Person Syndrome announcement
(Dion shared her personal news via Instagram.)

Will Dion Return to the Stage

Recognized for her powerhouse voice, Dion has a lengthy musical catalog of chart-topping ballads, like “Because You Loved Me,” “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now” and “The Power of Love.” She co-wrote her first song at the young age of 12, and signed on with her longtime music manager, René Angélil. The two would later marry and welcomed three sons. Angélil passed away from throat cancer in 2016.

“It hurts me to tell you that I won’t be ready to restart my tour in Europe in February [as intended],” Dion said, regarding the pause of all performances. Aside from eight shows being canceled from her summer 2023 run, concerts scheduled for spring 2023 will be postponed to 2024. Dion concluded her post with a heartfelt farewell: “I love you guys so much and I really hope I can see you again real soon. Thank you.”

Fans from around the world, including a plethora of entertainment industry giants, immediately took to social media to offer the Canadian-born singer well wishes. Yet, much remains uncertain about what’s to come. That’s because, at present time, there is no known cure for Stiff Person Syndrome. Typically physicians care for patients with Stiff Person Syndrome by addressing symptoms with medications, such as sedatives, muscle relaxants and steroids, according to Yale Medicine. Full details of Dion’s treatment were not released; although she did say she was “working hard” to restore her health.

Dion’s personal news just so happens to coincide with the 25th anniversary of her mega-hit, “My Heart Will Go On.” The song served as the main soundtrack for James Cameron’s blockbuster film Titanic. From the bottom of our hearts, we wish Dion calm waters as she navigates this health journey.

WATCH the full video announcement here:

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Nancy DeVault
Nancy is the managing editor of AmeriDisability. She is an award-winning storyteller passionate about health and happiness.

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