There are many medical conditions which develop as a result of some form of dysfunction in the central nervous system or affect the central nervous system of our body resulting in varying symptoms. One such medical condition is Neuromyelitis Optica, which is a rare condition of the central nervous system affecting the optic nerves of eyes as well as the spinal cord. In this article, we will discuss in detail the various causes, symptoms, and ways to manage this disease.
How Do We Define Neuromyelitis Optica (NMO) or Devic's Syndrome?
Neuromyelitis optica which is also known by the name of Devic's disease or Devic's syndrome is a form of a heterogeneous condition which results in simultaneous inflammation and demyelination of optic nerve and spinal cord.
Causes of Neuromyelitis Optica (NMO) or Devic's Syndrome
When we go back in history, Neuromyelitis Optica (NMO) or Devic's Syndrome was diagnosed in people who had rapid onset of blindness in one or both eyes, which was then followed by paralysis of arms and legs. After Neuromyelitis Optica strikes for the first time, it takes an unpredictable path. Most individuals with Neuromyelitis Optica gets attacks in clusters which are months or in some cases even years apart and then there is partial recovery. This form of Neuromyelitis Optica generally affects females. There is one more form of Neuromyelitis Optica where the affected individual has an acute single attack which can last for more than a month. This form affects males and females equally.
Symptoms of Neuromyelitis Optica (NMO) or Devic's Syndrome
Optic neuritis is the main symptom of Neuromyelitis Optica (NMO) or Devic's Syndrome. Transverse myelitis is another symptom which causes weakness, numbness, and sometimes paralysis of extremities as well as sensory loss along with loss of bladder and bowel control.
Treatment for Neuromyelitis Optica (NMO) or Devic's Syndrome
Till date, there is no clear cut cure for Neuromyelitis Optica (NMO) or Devic's Syndrome but there are some therapies which can be done for treatment of an attack to calm down the symptoms and for prevention of recurrent relapses. Physicians generally treat an attack of Neuromyelitis Optica using a combination of corticosteroid drugs immunosuppressants in order to prevent another attack. If there are frequent relapses, then the affected individual may require low dose steroids longer than normally used. Plasmapheresis is also a technique that is used for people affected with Neuromyelitis Optica who are unresponsive to steroid therapy. The other symptoms like pain, muscle spasms, bladder and bowel control issues can be controlled with appropriate medications. People who get more disabled than others require occupational therapy and/or physical therapy for rehabilitation.
Prognosis of Neuromyelitis Optica (NMO) or Devic's Syndrome
People affected with Neuromyelitis Optica (NMO) or Devic's Syndrome have an unpredictable course of disease with relapses which can be months to years apart. Some people get severely affected by Neuromyelitis Optica resulting in complete loss of vision and loss of function of the extremities. Most people with Neuromyelitis Optica end up with permanent weakness of the limbs. As a result of muscle weakness may result in breathing problems requiring use of a ventilator.