celine dion
Julie Hambleton
Julie Hambleton
May 8, 2024 ·  4 min read

Celine Dion’s sister shares health update on star’s condition of Stiff Person Syndrome

Celine Dion’s sister, Claudette Dion-Serrano, shared an update on her sister’s condition. In December of 2022, the “Heart Will Go On” singer announced that she was diagnosed with Stiff Person Syndrome. This came after years of struggling with her health. Though she had to halt the second half of her European tour, her sister is choosing to think positively. She believes that one day her sister will return to the stage.

Celine Dion’s Sisters Shares Update About Her Condition

Since her diagnosis near the end of last year, Celine Dion has taken quite a step out of the spotlight. This is while she attempts to manage the symptoms of Stiff Person Syndrome, a disorder that has taken away much of her mobility, along with her capacity to sing. Her sister, Claudette, gave an update on her sister’s condition while speaking with Montreal-based magazine Le Journal. (1)

“I am confident that life will give her back what she gave because she is an extremely intelligent woman, so very generous and talented and in love with life as well,” she said. “Rather than crying over her fate, I try to send her positive vibes in the hope that one day she will go back on stage. I truly believe in the power of love. I wish her the best of luck, that’s for sure. She is surrounded by specialists as she continues to recover.”

What Is Stiff Person Syndrome?

Stiff person syndrome is a rare disorder that causes stiffness and muscle spasms. It affects just one in a million people. It can cause pain and weakness in the legs, arms, and back. The condition is characterized by episodes of spasmodic stiffness that last several seconds or minutes, followed by spontaneous recovery. These episodes are often triggered by stress or excitement and may occur several times a day or night. The cause of stiff person syndrome is unknown. It may be related to the immune system or nerve cells in the brain. (2)

Stiff Person Syndrome is typically seen in people between the ages of 20 and 50, and is two to three times more common in women than in men. In even more rare circumstances, it can occur in children.

“We think it’s because this disease may have an autoimmune component, and in general, women are higher risk for autoimmune diseases,” said Dr. Leah Croll, an assistant professor of neurology at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University in Philadelphia. “But this is theoretical. We’re not totally certain as of yet.” (3)

Symptoms of Stiff Person Syndrome

The symptoms of stiff person syndrome can vary from person to person. The list of symptoms may include:

  • Muscle rigidity that progresses over time
  • Stiffness that worsens during periods of rest
  • Rigidity and stiffness of certain areas of the body causing unsteadiness, slower movements and difficulties walking
  • Pain around the joints during these episodes
  • Depression

The condition can affect people’s ability to walk. Dr. Croll says that often a side effect are phobias and anxiety, as the spasms are unpredictable. It most often affects the limbs but can also affect the neck and face.

“Typically, patients will present with stiffness in the muscles of the trunk, neck and back, and also … the shoulders and the hips. In some cases, patients may have the disease that only implicates maybe just one limb, so like just one leg is affected,” explained Dr. Croll.

Treatment Options

The most common treatment options are physical therapy and medications. Physical therapy can help you learn the proper exercises to improve your mobility. Medications may be used to prevent or treat muscle spasms or pain. Unfortunately, as of now, there are no cures.

“Most patients, as a first line, will be given medications that are meant to help relax the muscles. And in some patients, their doctors may also choose to pursue certain therapies that are meant to modulate the immune system,” Dr. Croll said. “It’s important though, to point out that these are therapies that are meant to lessen the severity of symptoms or potentially slow the progression of symptoms, but we don’t have a therapy available that specifically targets this disease.”

The life expectancy for the illness is also unknown. Some people live for years post-diagnosis, others decades. There are many factors at play, and doctors also don’t know much about the condition. This is because it is so rare, so there haven’t been very many clinical trials done to study it.

“People with Stiff Person Syndrome can run the spectrum from mild to severe, and a personalized approach to treating the disease is the best way to ensure an improved outcome,” says Richard Nowak, MD, a neurologist at Yale Medicine. (4

We can only hope for and wish the best to Celine Dion that, with the help of her doctors and the support of her loved ones, she will overcome this disease and continue to lead a happy life. This includes whether or not she takes the stage again one day.

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  1. Celine Dion’s sister shares optimistic update on star’s health in rare interview.” Hello Magazine. Hanna Fillingham. February 26, 2023.
  2. Stiff-Person Syndrome.” Ninds
  3. What to know about stiff-person syndrome after Celine Dion reveals rare disorder.” Good Morning America. Yi-Jin Yu. December 8, 2022.
  4. Stiff-Person Syndrome.” Yale Medicine