Celine Dion, the iconic Canadian singer and performer, has announced that she is dealing with a serious illness. The news has shocked and saddened her fans around the world, who have been eagerly awaiting her next tour and eagerly anticipating her upcoming album.
In an emotional Instagram reel, Celine announced that she’s postponing a series of concert dates in Europe because of an extremely rare neurological disorder called Stiff Person Syndrome (SPS).
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“I have to admit it’s been a struggle. All I know is singing, it’s what I’ve done all my life.” Celine said.
But the 54-year-old singer assured her fans that she’s getting treatment and she’ll return on stage soon. But what exactly is Stiff Person Syndrome?
What is Stiff Person Syndrome?
The first SPS case was recorded in 1950. This disease mainly affects a person’s brain and spinal cord, which results in muscle stiffness and random, painful muscle spasms triggered by various factors like light physical touch. It’s estimated that one out of every 1 million people is diagnosed with this autoimmune movement disorder, and it’s more common among women.
How do you get SPS?
Researchers still have no clue about the root cause of SPS. However, they pointed out an autoimmune reaction occurs when your immune system attacks healthy cells. In the case of an SPS-diagnosed individual, their immune system seems to thrash their glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD), which creates gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) responsible for muscle movements.
It’s also shown a person with SPS may have other autoimmune conditions like diabetes and thyroiditis.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of SPS overlap with Parkinson’s disease and vary from person to person, so it’s difficult to determine if someone has it. An individual with SPS may experience the following:
- A stiff abdomen and torso
- Painful muscle spasms
- Having difficulty walking
- Lumbar hyperlordosis
Find out more about SPS here.
Is there an available cure?
Sadly, a cure for SPS hasn’t been discovered yet. Doctors can only provide patients with medications like muscle relaxants to ease their symptoms and improve mobility. Massage and heat therapy are also considered effective non-medication alternatives for people with SPS.
What are the risks or complications?
Over time, affected individuals may experience difficulty doing everyday tasks. For Celine, she said SPS makes it hard for her to walk and perform.
“I miss seeing all of you, being on the stage, performing for you. I always give 100% when I do my shows, but my condition is not allowing me to give you that right now.”
If SPS is left untreated, it can lead to permanent disability and total body rigidity. People with SPS may also feel rigid or fall easily.
Is SPS preventable?
Given the disease’s rarity, it’s really difficult to say how to prevent it other than getting proper treatment. Despite her situation, Celine remains hopeful that things will get better for her.
“Take care of yourselves. Be well. I love you guys so much, and I really hope I can see you again real soon.”