The Diagnosis and Treatment of Neuromyelitis Optica
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Neuromyelitis Optica is an inflammatory condition caused by damage to the myelin sheath — a layer that shields the brain and spinal cord and is characterized by immune attacks of the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain and spinal cord.

What is Neuromyelitis Optica?

Also known as Devic’s Disease, Neuromyelitis optica is said to be a variation of multiple sclerosis (MS). As per the statistics provided by the National Health Service, UK, people of Asian and African descent stand more chances of developing the condition. This disease can affect almost anybody, but it is more common among people around the age of 40.

There are two main types of Neuromyelitis optica:

  • Relapsing Neuromyelitis Optica

An initial attack of optic neuritis and transverse myelitis is followed by subsequent attacks over a period of several years. Sometimes the patient never recovers fully from the neurological damage to the optic nerve and/or spinal cord, and the damage is permanent, causing disability. This type of Neuromyelitis optica affects women more frequently than men.

  • Monophasic Neuromyelitis Optica

This condition is characterized by a few attacks that are experienced over a period of days or weeks, and there are usually no subsequent attacks. This form of neuromyelitis optica affects both sexes equally.

Causes and Symptoms of Neuromyelitis Optica

Neuromyelitis optica is hereditary in nature and presents the following symptoms:

  • Inflamed optic nerves.
  • Temporarily diminished eyesight in at least one eye. (Heat or exercise are likely to cause a permanent loss of vision.)
  • A painful eye that tends to worsen with movement. The pain usually intensifies after a week and disappears after a few days. The eyes become sensitive in their perception of colors.
  • Swelling of the optic disc.

Some people diagnosed with Neuromyelitis optica may also be impacted by Transverse Myelitis (TM), which has the following symptoms:

  • Inflamed spinal cord
  • Back pain and neck pain
  • Shooting pain in the limbs and abdomen
  • Sensitivity to cold/heat around the spine
  • Weakness, heaviness or even paralysis of the limbs of patients
  • Incontinence and difficulty in urinating
  • Bowel incontinence and difficulty in the emptying of the bowels
  • Constipation

Diagnosis of Neuromyelitis Optica

A Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of the spine usually denotes areas of inflammation and the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in people with this condition differs from that with typical MS.

Characteristics of Neuromyelitis Optica

  • Neuromyelitis optica is considered a variant of MS, but an attack on the immune system is typically confined to the optic nerve and the spinal cord.
  • Neuromyelitis optica leads to more damaging bouts of inflammation of the tissues when compared to MS.
  • Patients with Neuromyelitis optica mostly fail to respond to typical injection therapies for MS, such as interferons (Avonex, Betaseron and Rebif) or glatiramer acetate (Copaxone).

Treatment Strategies for Neuromyelitis Optica

Research is being conducted to understand the causes and to find more effective treatments for Neuromyelitis optica. Some commonly used treatment strategies for acute relapses of the condition include steroids or plasmapheresis.

Plasma exchange is a sign of hope for a patient who has failed to react positively to steroids and is used when a patient is recovering from a relapse.

It has been found that the standard therapies for MS are much less effective for Neuromyelitis optica. Instead, research suggests that azathioprine (Imuran) and possibly mitoxantrone (Novantrone) may help.

Homeopathic Treatment for Neuromyelitis Optica: Argentum nitricum 200 is said to be an effective cure for Neuromyelitis optica. Do consult your homeopath for more options and dosage details of this medicine.

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References

Zhang, B., Zhong, Y., Wang, Y., Dai, Y., Qiu, W., Zhang, L., . . . Lu, Z. (2014, August 19). Neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorders without and with autoimmune diseases. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25135481

J., L., & M. (2012, January 29). Neuromyelitis Optica: An Antibody-Mediated Disorder of the Central Nervous System. Retrieved from https://www.hindawi.com/journals/nri/2012/460825/