Global singing sensation Celine Dion recently announced she was cancelling and postponing tour dates to deal with a rare condition called stiff-person syndrome.
If you’ve never heard of it, you are certainly not alone.
Stiff-person syndrome is a rare condition and the cause is a mystery. Experts think that the condition is an autoimmune disorder: the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks cells in the central nervous system responsible for moving muscles.
It will usually affect people between the ages of 30 and 60, and symptoms vary between individuals. It can be mild to severe, and a personalized approach is the only way to treat it.
The condition can cause severe disability. Muscles in the torso and limbs can become rigid or spasm, often in response to external stimuli like loud noise or stress. It can lead to trouble walking and boost the risk of falls.
There is also a mental component to the condition. It can lead to a drop in GABA, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate anxiety. People who get stiff-person syndrome may experience the onset of depression and anxiety, as well.
Because it is so rare, it takes a very long time to diagnose. Before a diagnosis, virtually every other potential illness needs to be ruled out. That means undergoing extensive testing for conditions like Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, psychosomatic illness, and more. It also means looking closely at past medical history.
If a diagnosis is given, there is no cure for stiff-person syndrome. Sedatives, muscle relaxants, and steroids may help. Physical or aqua therapy may be effective too.
So, that’s a bit of a briefing on this rare condition affecting superstar Celine Dion.