Balo’s disease is a rare demyelinating disorder of the central nervous system (CNS) in which the myelin (the fatty substance covering nerve fibers) is damaged. Balo Disease is a rare and progressive variant of multiple sclerosis. It usually first appears in adulthood, but childhood cases have also been reported. While multiple sclerosis typically is a disease that waxes and wanes, Balo Disease is different in that it tends to be rapidly progressive.
Balo’s disease is also known as:
- Balo disease
- encephalitis periaxialis concentrica
- leukoencephalitis periaxialis concentrica
- concentric sclerosis
What are the differences between MS and Balo’s Disease?
MS attacks and damages tissue in your brain and spinal cord, which causes lesions (areas of inflamed tissue).
Balo’s disease damages that tissue, too, and it causes lesions in your brain and spinal cord.
The difference is that the lesions caused by MS look like blotches or spots, but the ones caused by Balo’s disease look like bull’s-eye marks. Because of this, Balo’s disease is sometimes known as Balo’s concentric sclerosis — the bull’s-eye-shaped scars are concentric rings.
Another difference between the two conditions is that many people who have MS have periods of time when their symptoms let up. But most people who have Balo’s disease don’t get a break from their symptoms, and their health gets worse over time.
Who is affected?
Balo’s disease is most common among Asian people, especially people from China and the Philippines. Adults are more likely to get it than children, and it can affect both men and women. People often get the disease in their 30s.
- Muscle pain and spasms
- Muscle weakness
- Paralysis over time
- Trouble speaking
- Trouble thinking or understanding others
- Changes in behavior
Because Balo’s disease is very rare, it’s best to see a neurologist.
There is no cure for Balo’s disease at this time, and no medications have been specifically approved to treat it. The standard of care for early treatment of Balo’s disease includes treatment with corticosteroids to decrease inflammation in the affected areas of the brain and spinal cord.