‘It Is Like Somebody Is Strangling You’ Celine Dion Shares How Stiff Person Syndrome Affects Her

Canadian singer Celine Dion recently got candid about the impact of Stiff-person syndrome has had on her voice. In an interaction with NBC News, the singer opened up about her condition and shared that it has had a significant impact on her voice. 

She said, “It’s like somebody is strangling you. It’s like somebody is pushing your larynx/pharynx,” she said in a preview from the conversation that aired on the Today show raising her voice to demonstrate the effect. “It was like talking like that, and you cannot go high or lower.”

“It gets into a spasm,” Dion continued. “It started (in the throat). (And I thought), ‘No, okay, it’s gonna be fine.’ But it can also be the abdominal, can be in the spine, can be in the ribs.”

She further added that the stiffness can sometimes feel like it’s locked into place. 

“It feels like, if I point my feet, they will stay in [that position],” said the “Power of Love” singer.

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 where you cannot unlock them.”

“I have broken ribs at one point because sometimes when its very severe, it can break,” she said.

Ms Dion disclosed in December 2022 that she had been diagnosed with stiff-person syndrome, a rare and incurable neurological disorder that causes terrible muscular spasms, prompting her to postpone all scheduled performances.

She said at the time, “Unfortunately, these spasms affect every aspect of my daily life… sometimes causing difficulties when I walk and not allowing me to use my vocal cords to sing the way I’m used to.”

“All I know is singing,” she added. “It’s what I’ve done all my life. And it’s what I love to do the most.”

The condition, according to the Stiff Person Syndrome Foundation, affects the central nervous system, specifically the brain and spinal cord.

“Patients can be disabled, wheelchair-bound or bed-ridden, unable to work and care for themselves,” they say, adding that the neurological disease with autoimmune features can include symptoms like “hyper-rigidity, debilitating pain, chronic anxiety,” and muscle spasms “so violent they can dislocate joints and even break bones.”

Speaking about her interview with Dion last month to co-host Jenna Bush Hager, Hoda Kotb, said, “Celine is now much better, but at some point she almost died, which is something that she says.”

“It was a scary time, and she’s dealing with this,” Kotb added. Dion’s conversation with Kotb airs in full on Tuesday, June 11 on NBC, reported People.