In a recorded video message shared on her Facebook and Instagram pages on Thursday, the iconic singer 54 said: “I have recently been diagnosed with a very rare neurological condition, stiff person syndrome, which affects approximately 1 in 1 million people. affects. people.”
What is Stiff Person Syndrome?
Dr. Leah Croll, an assistant professor of neurology at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University in Philadelphia, sees and treats patients with neurological disorders that affect the brain, spinal cord, or peripheral nerves, including stiff person syndrome.
Croll agreed with Dion’s claim that stiff person syndrome is not common, calling it an “exceptionally rare disease”. “It only occurs in about one to two people per million,” Croll told “Good Morning America.”
Who Can Get Stiff Person Syndrome?
Croll explained that people between the ages of 20 and 50 tend to be diagnosed with stiff person syndrome, and while it’s rare, it can also occur in children and older adults.
In general, women are “two to three times” more likely to have stiff person syndrome than men.
“We think it’s because this disease may have an autoimmune component, and women in general are at higher risk for autoimmune disease,” Croll said. “But this is theoretical. We’re not quite sure yet.”
What Are the Symptoms of Stiff Person Syndrome?
In her video, Dion revealed some of the stiff person syndrome symptoms she has been experiencing. “While we are still learning about this rare condition, we now know that it is the cause of all the spasms I have had. Unfortunately, these spasms affect every aspect of my daily life, sometimes causing difficulties when I walk and not allow me to use my vocal cords to sing like I used to,” she said.
Croll said other symptoms that might indicate someone has stiff person syndrome include stiffness and stiffness of certain parts of the body, causing unsteadiness, slower movements and difficulty walking, something Dion said she has in addition to difficulty had with singing.
“Typically, patients will show 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 involving only one limb, so as only one leg is affected, Croll said.
“The key here is that this stiffness would be so deep that it impairs a person’s ability to move normally,” Croll added. “And the most common symptom for these patients is difficulty walking.”
Croll also noted that people with erectile dysfunction symptoms may also develop other conditions such as anxiety and phobias as a result of their physical symptoms.
What treatment is available for stiff person syndrome?
Treatments are available to address the symptoms of stiff person syndrome, but there is currently no cure for the chronic and progressive condition.
“Most patients are given first-line 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,” Croll said. “However, it is important to point out that these are therapies intended to reduce the severity of symptoms or possibly slow the progression of symptoms, but we do not have a therapy available that specifically targets this disease.”
Since stiff person syndrome is rare, not enough research has been done, and Croll said there are currently no large clinical trials for the disease.
Does Stiff Person Syndrome Affect Life Expectancy?
Doctors currently don’t know if stiff person syndrome affects an individual’s life expectancy, according to Croll, who said some patients have lived a few years after diagnosis, while others have lived for decades.
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Croll cautioned that stiff person syndrome is uncommon in the general population, but advised that individuals who are concerned about the symptoms they are experiencing should start a conversation with their GP, who can also refer them to a neurologist.
“This is a very rare condition that most people don’t need to worry about. But anyone experiencing symptoms in their muscles that interfere with their ability to move normally would benefit from consulting a neurologist to sort that out, Croll said.