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Celine Dion says stiff person syndrome has caused her muscle spasms that have broken her ribs

Celine Dion has said that living with stiff person syndrome has involved experiencing muscle spasms that have broken her ribs.

The Canadian pop icon confirmed that she had been diagnosed with the condition in 2022, and she has now given her first television interview on the subject, to NBC News.

“I had broken ribs at one point, because sometimes when it’s very severe…” she said, before interviewer Hoda Kotb interjected. “It can spasm so hard it can break a rib?” she asked, to which Dion nodded.

Canadian singer Celine Dion performs on the opening night of her world tour “Courage”. CREDIT: ALICE CHICHE/AFP via Getty Images

She continued that spasms in her throat can feel like “somebody is strangling you, like someone is pushing your larynx”.

“But it can also be in the abdominal [area], in the spine, in the ribs,” she added, and explained that her hands also cramp to the point that “you cannot unlock them”.

A documentary about the singer, titled I Am: Celine Dion, is set to be released on Amazon Prime Video on June 25.

It will include footage of her recording a video statement, which was released in December 2022, that revealed she had been diagnosed with the disorder.

Towards the end of the trailer, Dion speaks through tears: “I miss it so much. The people, I miss them. If I can’t run, I’ll walk. If I can’t walk, I’ll crawl.”

Stiff person syndrome is a rare autoimmune neurological condition that affects “one person in a million”. According to Healthline, the condition primarily affects the brain and spinal cord and causes muscle stiffness, posture problems and painful spasms.

“These spasms affect every aspect of my life, sometimes causing difficulties when I walk and not allowing me to use my vocal cords to sing the way I’m used to,” Dion tearfully explained in her 2022 statement.

In March, Dion commemorated Stiff Person Syndrome Awareness Day by posting a message to her followers on Instagram. “As many of you know, in the fall of 2022, I was diagnosed with Stiff Person Syndrome (SPS),” she wrote.

“Trying to overcome this autoimmune disorder has been one of the hardest experiences of my life, but I remain determined to one day get back onto the stage and to live as normal of a life as possible,” the singer added.

Dion’s last public appearance was at the 2024 Grammys, where she presented the Album of the Year award to Taylor Swift.

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