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Idiopathic diseases

Introduction to Idiopathic diseases

Idiopathic inflammatory demyelinating diseases (IIDDs) are considered to be borderline variants of multiple sclerosis or are considered by others to be a spectrum of diseases which vary in their clinical course or severity. Although the diseases vary they all feature areas of inflammation affecting the central nervous system (brain and/or spinal cord). Inflammation causes the protective coating around the nerves to degenerate which affects transmission of the nerve impulses and makes the nerve fibre vulnerable to damage. The damage to the nerves can cause various symptoms including weakness and altered sensation.

Diseases included in this category include:

  • Acute IIDDs: Marburg variant of multiple sclerosis, Balo's concentric sclerosis, Schilder's disease, acute disseminated encephalomyelitis
  • Monosymptomatic IIDDs: transverse myelitis, optic neuritis
  • IIDDs with a restricted topographical distribution: Devic's neuromyelitis optica, recurrent optic neuritis and relapsing transverse myelitis

As there is considerable overlap between the diseases there is often diagnostic uncertainty. MRI scans together with clinical and laboratory findings are usually used to confirm a diagnosis.

Physiotherapy treatment can help people with IIDDs to maximise their physical function and help improve their independence. Treatment may include specific exercises to work in improving strength, balance and mobility.

Idiopathic diseases

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