The music phenom, Justin Bieber, has rocketed to stardom since his first album, My World, was released in 2009, and he has enjoyed incredible continued success. But now, a very rare neurologic disorder, Raymond Hunt Syndrome, has placed his planned Justice World Tour on hold.
The most distressing of the syndrome’s symptoms directly affect Bieber’s ability to engage in his music career because the virus can bring on facial paralysis and hearing deficits. Additional curious and highly distressing symptoms can bring unexpected nerve damage.
One symptom involves abnormal reactions to facial movements ( and is) caused by nerves growing back (and attaching) to the wrong muscles, persistent pain (postherpetic neuralgia), and facial weakness. In rare cases, the virus may spread to other nerves or to the brain and spinal cord, causing confusion, drowsiness, limb weakness, headaches, and nerve pain. It can also bring on vision problems because of its effect on the eyes.
The incidence of this syndrome, one of the herpes zoster group, is 5 in 100K persons and is not necessarily always associated with prior infection with chicken pox.
Factors that increase the risk of herpes zoster will increase the incidence of Ramsay Hunt syndrome, including stress, chemotherapy, immunocompromise, infection, malnutrition, and others. A worldwide music tour is highly physically and mentally stressful, which mitigates against fully recuperating from the syndrome.
The syndrome makes such an effort in a world tour an impossibility until the symptoms resolve, which, in most cases, it does within a short time. For this reason, it was a wise step to postpone the tour until some later date when Bieber has fully recuperated.
Numerous specialties are often required. In the long-term, plastic surgery or otolaryngology, pain management, ophthalmology, speech or physical therapy, and psychology/psychiatry are mandated as part of a care team for anyone with this syndrome. Botox may be required to alleviate muscle difficulties affected by the virus.
Mood and anxiety changes are not unusual and would be expected in a person struggling with this syndrome and its varied forms of manifestation. How would someone with an international profile in entertainment handle it, and what would the outcome be on his career are questions that Bieber and his team must face head-on. In addition to the tour considerations, Bieber’s wife, Hailey, suffered a mini-stroke in 2022.
Bieber has noted on his social media account, “I realized that I need to make my health the priority right now. So I’m going to take a break from touring for the time being. I’m going to be ok, but I need time to rest and get better.”
He thoroughly detailed his symptoms in a video posted on one social media account. “Obviously, as you can probably see from my face, I have this syndrome called Ramsay Hunt syndrome, and it is from this virus that attacks the nerve in my ear and my facial nerves and has caused my face to have paralysis. As you can see, this eye is not blinking. I can’t smile with this side of my face, this nostril will not move, so there is full paralysis in this side of my face.” The facial muscle changes had made it difficult for him to eat, and he asked his fans for prayers.
Valiantly, he had tried continuing the tour in Europe but found himself exhausted after taking the stage. The virus continued to express itself, and it was then that the decision was made to put a halt on further appearances in the interests of his health.
The pressures of dozens of tour stops suddenly put on hold have increased his stress as thousands of people depend on his worldwide performances. But which is the more significant push, money or health? If Bieber doesn’t give himself enough time and treatment to regain his abilities, there will be no touring for months, a year, or more.
The complete determination of how long his rehab will take, how effective treatments will be, what residual effects there will be, and whether or not he will have a recurrence of the virus that may lie dormant for a time in his body can’t be known.
Stress plays a vital role in how his immune system is either highly active in fighting the virus or weakened by too much activity and worry. He is right to take time off to learn how to properly relax his body and mind to aid him in this fight. Periods of high stress can spark Ramsay Hunt Syndrome, and a world tour would be just the ingredient needed to suppress the immune system and enable the syndrome’s emergence.
Everyone wishes him well and a full recovery to continue his career.