The key difference between NMO and MS is that in NMO (neuromyelitis optica), the body’s immune system attacks the central nervous system, while in MS (multiple sclerosis), the body’s immune system attacks the myelin sheath.
NMO (neuromyelitis optica) and MS (multiple sclerosis) are two nerve conditions. MS is much more common than NMO. In the United States, there are about 1 million MS cases. On the other hand, there are only 4000 NMO cases in the United States. Moreover, both these nerve conditions are very common in women than in men.
What is NMO?
Neuromyelitis Optica (NMO) is a central nervous system disorder. NMO primarily affects eye nerves and the spinal cord. It is also known as neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder or Devic’s disease. This disease normally occurs when the immune system attacks its own cells in the central nervous system, specifically the cells in the optic nerves and spinal cord. But sometimes, it can involve the cells in the brain as well. This attack often happens after an infection. NMO can also be associated with other autoimmune conditions. The symptoms may involve blindness in one or both eyes, painful spasms, weakness or paralysis in the legs or arms, loss of sensations, uncontrollable vomiting or hiccups, dysfunction of bladder or bowel from spinal damage, confusion, seizures, or coma in children, and problems in walking.
NMO is generally diagnosed through physical examination, neurological examination, MRI, blood test, lumber puncture (spinal tap), and stimuli response test. Furthermore, treatment options for NMO may include injecting corticosteroid medication (methylprednisolone) intravenously to reverse symptoms and immune system-suppressing medications like azathioprine, mycophenolate, or retiximab to prevent future attacks.
What is MS?
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a nerve condition in which the body’s immune system attacks the myelin sheath. The symptoms of MS may include numbness in one or more limbs that occurs on one side of the body at a time, electric shock sensations with certain neck movements, tremors, slurred speech, partial or complete loss of vision, blurry vision, prolonged double vision, fatigue, dizziness, tingling in parts of the body and sexual, bowel, or bladder dysfunction.
Moreover, MS can be diagnosed through medical history, physical examination, blood tests, spinal tap (lumbar puncture), MRI, and evoked potential tests. Furthermore, treatment options for MS include corticosteroids, plasma exchange, ocrelizumab (FDA-approved disease-modifying therapy (DMT), injectable (interferon beta and glatiramer acetate), and oral medications (fingolimod, dimethyl fumarate, diroximel fumarate, teriflunomide, siponimod, and cladribine), physical therapy, muscle relaxant, medication to reduce fatigue (amantadine), medication to increase walking speed (dalfampridine), other medications (for sexual, bowel and bladder problems), lifestyle and home remedies and alternative oral medicine (oral cannabis extract (OCE).
What are the Similarities Between NMO and MS?
- NMO and MS are two nerve conditions.
- Both these nerve conditions are very common in women than in men.
- They are caused by when the body’s immune system attacks its own cells.
- Both these conditions may have similar symptoms, such as movement problems, vision problems, etc.
- They can be diagnosed through physical examination and imaging tests.
- They can be treated through specific medications and therapies.
What is the Difference Between NMO and MS?
NMO is a nerve condition in which the body’s immune system attacks the central nervous system, while MS is a nerve condition in which the body’s immune system attacks the myelin sheath. Thus, this is the key difference between NMO and MS. Furthermore, NMO is less common, whereas MS is much more common.
The below infographic presents the differences between NMO and MS in tabular form for side-by-side comparison.
Summary – NMO vs MS
There are numerous nervous system disorders that should be treated by a specialized healthcare professional. NMO and MS are two nerve conditions that are due to the body’s immune system’s attacks on its own cells. NMO is a nerve condition in which the body’s immune system attacks the central nervous system, while MS is a nerve condition in which the body’s immune system attacks the myelin sheath, the outside layer of nerve cells. So, this summarizes the difference between NMO and MS.
1. “Differentiating intramedullary pathology, location within the cord” By Nadezdha D. Kiriyak from “Mohajeri Moghaddam, S., Bhatt, A.A. Location, length, and enhancement: systematic approach to differentiating intramedullary spinal cord lesions. Insights Imaging 9, 511–526 (2018). (CC BY 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Multiple Sclerosis” By BruceBlaus – Own work (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia