- What is neuromyelitis optica?
- What can the disorder cause or lead to?
- Who is most at risk?
- What are the main symptoms of neuromyelitis optica?
- How is neuromyelitis typically diagnosed?
- What are the treatment options for the condition?
- Which specialist treats neuromyelitis optica?
Neuromyelitis optica (NMO), which is also known as Devic's disease, is an extremely rare central nervous system disorder that affects the spinal cord and optic nerves.
Neuromyelitis optica can cause blindness, weakness, paralysis, nerve pain, and muscle spasms.
The condition can affect both men and women of all ages, but generally tends to affect the female population more than the male population.
There are a numerous amount of symptoms that patients suffering from neuromyelitis optica commonly present with. The main ones include the following:
- vision loss
- eye pain
- weakness in arms and/or legs
- arm or leg pain
- bladder problems
- bowel problems
- sexual problems
- painful arm and leg muscle spasms
- colours appearing less vivid and faded
- irritated and swollen spinal cord
- optic neuritis
To effectively and accurately diagnose a patient with neuromyelitis optica, a MRI scan of the patient's brain and spinal cord will be carried out. Blood tests will then be the next step in the diagnosis process, and in some cases, patients may also be required to have a lumbar puncture, where a thin needle will remove a sample of fluid surrounding the patient's spine to test it.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for neuromyelitis optica. However, in order to slow down the progression of the disease, as well as to ease and improve symptoms, steriods are often prescribed to patients to reduce inflammation.
Neurologists are the specialists who treat this condition.