The rare neurological condition that has caused Celine Dion to cancel tour dates

The remaining 42 dates of Canadian singer Celine Dion’s Courage World Tour have been cancelled, due to the effects of a rare neurological disease called stiff person syndrome.

On Friday, the singer issued a statement which said: “I’m so sorry to disappoint all of you once again.

“I’m working really hard to build back my strength, but touring can be very difficult even when you’re 100%.

“It’s not fair to you to keep postponing the shows, and even though it breaks my heart, it’s best that we cancel everything now until I’m really ready to be back on stage again.

“I want you all to know, I’m not giving up … and I can’t wait to see you again!”

Here we look at the specifics of the condition:

The MET Gala 2019 – New York
Celine Dion attending the Met Gala in 2019 (Jennifer Graylock/PA)

– What is stiff person syndrome?

According to UCL, stiff person syndrome is an autoimmune disease and neurological condition characterised by persistent spasms.

– What are the symptoms?

The main symptoms of stiff person syndrome is muscle stiffening and spasming.

Periods of muscle spasming can be triggered by environmental stimuli like loud noises and can calm down once the stimulus has gone.

Some people with stiff person syndrome have other autoimmune diseases such as type one diabetes, vitiligo and pernicious anaemia.

British Summer Time
Celine Dion has cancelled her world tour dates (Ian West/PA)

– What are the causes?

The cause of stiff person syndrome remains unknown, but it is suspected that it has something to do with the protein glutamic acid decarboxylase and is caused by an autoimmune reaction.

Researchers think that the immune system attacks glutamic acid decarboxylase, which helps to make a substance called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which regulates motor neurons.

When someone has low levels of GABA their motor neurons can fire continuously and when they are not supposed to.

It is thought that a high proportion of patients have anti-glutamic acid decarboxylase antibodies in their blood and in the fluid that surrounds their brain.

– Can it be treated?

There is no cure for stiff person syndrome, but there are ways for the disease to be treated, including through the use of muscle sedatives and relaxants.

Physical and occupational therapy is also a treatment route for people with stiff person syndrome.