Acute Flaccid Myelitis — Know It All!


All you need to know about Acute Flaccid Myelitis.

Know your ailment well, so you can manage it better!!

Here we come with Acute Flaccid Myelitis today!

Acute Flaccid Myelitis 

What is Acute Flaccid Myelitis?

Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) is a disease leading to muscle weakness and loss of reflexes that affect the spinal cord. Most individuals who experience AFM have had a flu-like viral condition one to four weeks prior to AFM symptoms. AFM signs include sudden onset (acute) of weakness in the arm(s) or leg(s), muscle tone loss, and reflexes that are diminished or absent. Pressure, facial fatigue, and trouble swallowing, speaking, or moving the eyes can be other signs. It is not apparent why certain individuals grow AFM and others do not. The diagnosis is based on symptoms, a clinical evaluation, a spine MRI, and other tests in the laboratory. For months to years, most individuals with AFM appear to have muscle weakness. The muscles associated with breathing are often impaired, and to aid with breathing, ventilator support is required. For people with AFM, the long-term result is uncertain. Treatment focuses on symptom control and requires aggressive physical therapy.

Acute Flaccid Myelitis 

What are the causes of Acute Flaccid Myelitis?

An infection with a form of virus known as an enterovirus might cause acute flaccid myelitis. Respiratory diseases and enterovirus fever are common, particularly in kids. The majority of people recuperate. It’s not clear why some people experience acute flaccid myelitis with enterovirus infection.

Between August and November, several viruses, including enteroviruses, circulate in the United States. This is when outbreaks of acute flaccid myelitis appear to occur.

The symptoms of acute flaccid myelitis can be close to those of polio, a viral disease. But none of the cases of acute flaccid myelitis has been caused by poliovirus in the United States.

Acute Flaccid Myelitis 

What are the symptoms of Acute Flaccid Myelitis?

The most common signs and symptoms of acute flaccid myelitis include:

  • Sudden arm or leg weakness
  • Sudden loss of muscle tone
  • Sudden loss of reflexes

Other possible signs and symptoms include:

  • Difficulty moving the eyes or drooping eyelids
  • Facial droop or weakness
  • Difficulty with swallowing or slurred speech
  • Pain in the arms, legs, neck or back

Uncommon symptoms might include:

  • Numbness or tingling
  • Inability to pass urine

Severe symptoms involve respiratory failure, due to the muscles involved in breathing becoming weak. It’s also possible to experience life-threatening body temperature changes and blood pressure instability.

What are the risk factors of Acute Flaccid Myelitis?

Acute flaccid myelitis mainly affects young children.

What are the complications of Acute Flaccid Myelitis?

Muscle weakness caused by acute flaccid myelitis can continue for months to years.

Acute Flaccid Myelitis 

How is Acute Flaccid Myelitis diagnosed?

To diagnose acute flaccid myelitis, the doctor starts with a thorough medical history and physical exam. The doctor might recommend:

  • Examining the nervous system. The doctor examines the places on the body where you or your child has a weakness, poor muscle tone and decreased reflexes.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This imaging test allows the doctor to look at the brain and spinal cord.
  • Lab tests. The doctor might take samples of the fluid around the brain and spinal cord (cerebrospinal fluid), respiratory fluid, blood, and stool for lab testing.
  • A Nerve Check. This test can check how fast an electrical impulse moves through the nerves and the response of muscles to messages from the nerves.

Acute flaccid myelitis can be hard to diagnose because it shares many of the same symptoms as other neurological diseases, such as Guillain-Barre syndrome. These tests can help distinguish acute flaccid myelitis from other conditions.

Acute Flaccid Myelitis 

What is the treatment for Acute Flaccid Myelitis?

  • There is no clear treatment for acute flaccid myelitis at present. The therapy is directed at symptom control.
  • Physical or occupational therapy may be prescribed by a doctor who specialises in treating brain and spinal cord disorders (neurologist) to assist with arm or leg weakness. If physical therapy begins during the initial phase of the disease, long-term rehabilitation could be enhanced.
  • Treatment with immunoglobulin containing safe antibodies from healthy donors, drugs that lower body inflammation (corticosteroids) or antiviral drugs may also be prescribed by the doctor. Or a procedure that extracts and replaces blood plasma (plasma exchange) may be recommended by the doctor. It’s not clear, however, whether these therapies have any advantages.
  • Surgeries for nerve and muscle transfer are often performed to enhance limb function.
Acute Flaccid Myelitis 


There’s no specific way to prevent acute flaccid myelitis. However, preventing a viral infection can help reduce the risk of developing acute flaccid myelitis.

Take these steps to help protect yourself or your child from getting or spreading a viral infection:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water.
  • Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or upper shirt sleeve.
  • Keep sick children at home.



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