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Céline Dion says she’s dealing with neurological condition known as stiff-person syndrome

Singer Céline Dion is shown in Paris at a fashion show on Jan. 22, 2019. Dion was regularly performing until the coronavirus pandemic and health challenges have hampered her ability to return to the stage. (Francois Mori/The Associated Press)

Singer Céline Dion is shown in Paris at a fashion show on Jan. 22, 2019. Dion was regularly performing until the coronavirus pandemic and health challenges have hampered her ability to return to the stage.

Photo:  (Francois Mori/The Associated Press)

RCI

Dion had previously rescheduled dates on her Courage tour but had not revealed a specific diagnosis

Céline Dion apologized to her fans in Europe in an emotional social media post on Thursday, saying a rare neurological condition is preventing her from hitting the stage for previously scheduled shows in the spring and summer.

Dion, 54, said she has been dealing with the rare neurological disorder stiff-person syndrome.

In January, the pop icon cancelled some North American shows, with her website citing persistent muscle spasms.

Unfortunately these spasms affect every aspect of my daily life, sometimes causing difficulties when I walk, and not allowing me to use my vocal chords to sing the way I'm used to, she said on Thursday.

According to her website, eight summer 2023 shows on her Courage tour have been cancelled, with several that had been due to take place in the spring rescheduled for 2024. Some of the European dates had already been pushed back from 2022.

The Charlemagne, Que., native said she's been dealing with the difficult health challenges for a long time.

I have to admit, it's been a struggle, she said. All I know is singing, it's what I've done all my life.

Last week, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that the Resorts World Las Vegas had hoped she could begin her planned residency at that 3,500-seat venue sometime in 2023. She previously held court in Vegas at Caesars Palace for recurring shows spanning several years.

'Doing everything I can'

The five-time Grammy winner said she is regularly consulting with doctors, including a sports medicine therapist, and that her children have been supportive.

I have hope I'm on the road to recovery, she said. This is my focus, and I'm doing everything I can to recuperate.

According to information from Johns Hopkins Medicine in the United States, stiff-person syndrome is a very rare condition that most often affects patients in the lower back, abdominal and leg areas, which can affect a person's gait and balance, leaving them susceptible to falls.

It can take years to diagnosis when the condition is still mild, with another challenge that spasms and rigidity are common symptoms for other conditions. The disorder has been detected much more often in women than men, according to an explainer video from Dr. Scott Newsome, a neurologist at Johns Hopkins.

Depending on the case, he said, Botox injections, ultrasound therapy, acupuncture, deep tissue treatments and aqua therapy can alleviate symptoms and pain.

Dion performs on Sept. 18, 2019, at the Videotron Centre in Quebec City. In addition to her European tour plans, she was slated to return for another Las Vegas residency.

Dion performs on Sept. 18, 2019, at the Videotron Centre in Quebec City. In addition to her European tour plans, she was slated to return for another Las Vegas residency.

Photo: La Presse canadienne / Jacques Boissinot

The pop icon behind My Heart Will Go OnIf You Asked Me To and Because You Loved Me has won 20 Juno Awards and was among the first to be honoured on Canada's Walk of Fame in Toronto, in 1999.

In addition to her health challenges, since 2016 Dion has dealt with the death of her husband, her mother and one of her brothers.

She had performed dozens of shows across North America in 2019 and 2020 up until the week the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered live entertainment across the world.

As of now, previously announced tour dates between Aug. 26 and Oct. 4 are still scheduled to take place.

Chris Iorfida (new window) · CBC News

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