Devic’s disease, also known as neuromyelitis optica (NMO), affects the spinal cord and the optic nerves. It is a relapsing-remitting disease, meaning its symptoms can appear and disappear. In NMO, the body’s immune system attacks and destroys myelin, the sheathing that surrounds nerves and enables nerve signals to move between cells.
When the spinal cord becomes inflamed, pain can occur in the spine or extremities, such as the arms and legs. This can lead to mild to serious paralysis. Some with NMO have muscle spasms, headache, fever, and loss of appetite. If the disease continues to progress, the person may become wheelchair-bound.
There is no cure for NMO, but the symptoms can be treated to give offer some relief. The usual course of treatment is steroids and immunosuppressant drugs to prevent a recurrence. Treatment must be tailored to each person because everybody reacts differently to medications.
A video blogger, or vlogger, called PerfectlyKnitBeauty, shared the story of her diagnosis with her YouTube channel. She said that unlike most NMO patients, her symptoms did not begin with blurry vision or other eye problems such as pain; instead, it affected her spine. She began experiencing an aching feeling in her legs, that gave way to pins and needles–to the point where she couldn’t feel her legs at all. She describes it as one of the scariest moments in her life, and she ended up spending eight days in the hospital. Fortunately, the feeling came back.