Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that affects the function of the nerves and their signals to the body from the brain and spinal cord area. There is, what many scientists believe to be, a rare form of the disease known as Devics Syndrome, or Devic’s neuromyelitis optica. (NMO)
Named after Dr. Eugene Devic, the French neurologist who first described the condition, is more common among women than men. Women comprise over 2/3 of patients and more than 80% of those with the relapsing form of the disease.
With this syndrome, the protective fatty covering which shields the spinal cord starts breaking down. In addition, there is inflammation of the optic nerve which in turn cases pain of the eye and loss of vision. These two conditions which indicate Devics Syndrome are called transverse myelitis and optic neuritis.
This syndrome is linked to MS because of the damage to the protective covering of the nerves around the spinal cord, much like what the body does to the myelin in MS. With Devics Syndrome, because of the loss of this protective covering, incontinence may occur as well as paralysis and some type of vision impairment, that is, if it is not already lost.
There are some rare instances where the symptoms of Devics occur after a cold or infection. In these instances, it is referred to as ADE or acute demyelinated encephalolyelitis and is different from the syndrome. Encephalolyelitis is inflammation of the brain and spinal cord.
Treatment and Prognosis Expectations
There is one small, but major problem with Devics Syndrome. There is no basic treatment for this rare disease. Rather, doctors, treat the symptoms as that are the only thing they can do because there is no cure. Corticosteroids are the most popular medication prescribed for the treatment of the symptoms.
With the condition called ADE which produces almost identical symptoms as Devics Syndrome, doctor might prescrive the corticosteroids or even several intravenous medications like immunoglobin or methylprednisolone. With this syndrome, people with it seems to have very exaggerated symptoms of what an MS sufferer might have.
Fatalities do occur with people who have Devics Syndrome simply because there is nothing that can be done to halt the disease in its tracks. People who develop ADE as a results of a virus or other type of infection usually do recover complete or recover enough with a few residual side effects.
Because Devics Syndrome is so rare, there are no real research studies being done on it. Rather, scientists are trying to concentrate on understanding the intricacies of the nervous system how it works, how to protect it and how to prevent disease that affects it totally.
A primary goal that many scientists hope to research is how to develop practices for repairing or at least partially rebuilding the nerves damaged by the disease. Scientists want to be able to give patients with various nervous system disorders the opportunity to use their body once again with some strength and use.
People who feel that they have nothing to lose might consider participating in clinical trials in the hope of combating these symptoms and cause of MS as well as related autoimmune system or central nervous system diseases like Devics Syndrome, lupus and more. The doctor may be able to steer you to some of these studies.