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Céline Dion Reveals Stiff Person Syndrome Impacts Singing and Broken Ribs from Spasms


Sat 08 Jun 2024 | 01:28 PM
Céline Dion
Céline Dion
Yara Sameh

Canadian music icon Céline Dion opened up about the difficulties of performing with Stiff Person Syndrome on “Today,” telling host Hoda Kotb that singing is “like somebody’s strangling you.”

In the interview, the full version of which will air June 11 at 10 p.m. ET on NBC, Dion explained to Kotb the physical effects of the Syndrome. Pressing inward on her throat with her fingers, Dion noted “It’s like somebody’s pushing your larynx, pharynx, this way.”

Dion proceeded to speak in a breathy, restrained tone, saying: “It’s like you’re talking like that, and you cannot go higher or lower.”

The iconic singer was diagnosed with Stiff Person Syndrome in December 2022, a rare neurological disorder that causes progressive muscular stiffness. Part of this, Dion explained, is spasms that can be “Abdominal, can be in the spine, can be in the ribs.”

“It feels like if I point my feet, it will stay in [that position],” she said. “Or, if I cook — because I love to cook — my fingers, my hands will get in position. It’s cramping, but it’s like in a position of like, you cannot unlock them.”

Dion revealed she had even “Broken ribs at one point.”

“Sometimes, when it’s very severe, it can break some ribs,” the singer added.

Stiff Person Syndrome has prevented Dion from touring and caused her to stay largely out of the spotlight, though she made a surprise appearance at the Grammys in February and earned a huge standing ovation.

Dion is telling all about her health battle in a new documentary for Amazon MGM titled “I Am: Celine Dion”, available to stream on Prime Video starting June 25.