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Celebrity singer Celine Dion down with rare stiff muscle disease

Popular singer Celine Dion has revealed that she is suffering from a rare disorder called stiff muscle disorder (Pic. Courtesy Twitter/@africaenttv_)

Celine Dion, the superstar singer from Canada was forced to put off her tour to Europe as she was afflicted by a very rare neurological condition called stiff-person syndrome. As per a sciencealert.com report a person with this syndrome suffers from stiffness and muscle spasms.

This syndrome occurs among one in a million people as per the US National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) and its symptoms are visible over a period of months or years in people who are normally between the ages of 30 to 60. The condition can remain stable in some cases or get gradually worse in others.

The painful muscle spasms which occur often, last minutes or even hours. It can happen at random or could be activated by light physical contact, loud noises, stress or circumstances which need high emotional response, as per NORD.

In case the syndrome is not treated it may lead to problems in walking forcing a person to use a wheelchair and also affect his/her ability to perform day-to-day routine chores.

In her Instagram, Dion wrote: “While we’re still learning about this rare condition, we now know this is what’s been causing all of the spasms I’ve been having. Unfortunately, the 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 was in 1956 this condition was first recognised and it was then called stiff-man syndrome. The name underwent a change when it was found that the majority of those affected were women.

Scientists have not been able to pinpoint the exact reason as to why this syndrome happens. It is thought to be triggered by an autoimmune disorder and it may take place along with other autoimmune conditions.

The condition can be identified by testing for certain antibodies like GAD antibodies. Electromyography procedure too is used which assesses the electrical activity in muscles. Yet there have been cases when this syndrome has been misdiagnosed as a range of non-neurological conditions.

There is a need to improve diagnostic precision so unnecessary treatment can be avoided. At present the treatments available to manage the symptoms are drugs that reduce muscle stiffness and spasms. As per NORD massage, acupuncture, stretching and other non-drug therapies are also used to treat the syndrome.

As for Dion she informed through her post on Instagram that “a great team of doctors” was working to help her. “I’m working hard with my sports medicine therapist every day to build back my strength and my ability to perform again,” she wrote.