Neuromyelitis optica

NMO spectrum disorder, NMOSD, Devic's disease

What is neuromyelitis optica?

Neuromyelitis optica is a rare condition which can affect anyone and at any age. It affects the spinal cord and nerves in the eyes.

What causes neuromyelitis optica?

Neuromyelitis optica is caused by an abnormal reaction from the immune system when it attacks the healthy tissues in the spinal cord and nerves in the eyes.

It isn’t considered to be genetic but could occur due to having another autoimmune condition already.

What are the symptoms of neuromyelitis optica?

The symptoms of NMO can vary widely from person to person. Inflammation and swelling of the spinal cord are referred to as transverse myelitis, while inflammation of the optic nerves is called optic neuritis.

If a person has a specific antibody in their blood that is connected with neuromyelitis optica, they would be considered to be on the spectrum.

Symptoms of neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder can vary from mild to severe and can include:

  • Loss of vision
  • Weakness in arms or legs
  • Sharp, burning or shooting pains in legs
  • Increased sensitivity to heat and cold
  • Bladder and bowel problems

Are you affected by neuromyelitis optica?

If you’re affected by neuromyelitis optica, The Brain Charity can support you.

We are the only charity in the UK to be here for every one of the more than 600 different neurological conditions in existence. Individually, many are rare, but combined, they affect 1 in 6 people.

We provide practical help on all aspects of living with neuromyelitis optica, emotional support such as counselling, phone befriending and group therapy and social activities to people with neuromyelitis optica from all over the UK from our centre in Liverpool.

Looking to talk to someone?

Woman smiling, making eye contact and holding the hand of another woman to comfort her

Phone us

Contact The Brain Charity now

Our friendly Information & Advice Officers are here to help. We endeavour to respond to all enquiries within 10 working days.

0151 298 2999

Looking to talk to someone?

  • Please tell us which neurological condition you are affected by and what you need support with.

Caring for someone with neuromyelitis optica

We support carers, friends and family too

Are you a carer for or relative of someone with neuromyelitis optica? It’s just as important for you to look after your own physical and mental wellbeing too.

The Brain Charity provides free support for carers, friends and family of people with any form of neurological condition, including neuromyelitis optica, from anywhere in the UK.

We also run an additional carers advocacy service for all carers in Liverpool, regardless of which type of condition the person they care for has.

You don’t need to be a formal or registered carer

We can help you even if you don’t view yourself as a formal carer or claim Carer’s Allowance. Find out some of the ways we support carers below.

Other resources

The Brain Charity's library

The Brain Charity’s library has a range of resources on neuromyelitis optica , as well as many other disability related issues.

Support groups

The Guthry-Jackson Charitable Foundation

NMO Spectrum UK Community

Facebook group: NMO Spectrum UK Community

Support groups at The Brain Charity

Are you interested in setting up a neuromyelitis optica support group, or do you already run one? Email to let us know.

Alternatively, you can check out our list of related support groups here.

Other charities