ACUTE FLACCID MYELITIS - Overview , Facts, Types, Symptoms


Acute flaccid myelitis, a rare and severe condition, influences the spinal cord. It causes unexpected weakness in the legs or arms, loss of reflexivity, and muscle tension, primarily affecting adolescents. 

In affected children, mild fever or respiratory disease is due to contamination of a viral infection one to four weeks before developing symptoms. 

If you or your children acquire symptoms of this condition, seek immediate medical attention because symptoms could develop quickly. Hospital care is required, and occasionally, a ventilator is needed for respiratory or breathing support.


Once you obtain acute flaccid myelitis, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Sudden loss of reflexes and muscle tone
  • Sudden weakness of legs and arms
  • Pain in the neck, legs, back, or arms
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Facial weakness 
  • Difficulty in moving the eyes
  • Slurred speech
  • Incapacity to pass urine (uncommon)
  • Tingling or numbness (uncommon)

Additionally, severe symptoms of acute flaccid myelitis include respiratory failure because of the involved muscles in breathing that become weak. It is also possible to face life-threatening symptoms like, unstable blood pressure and changes in body temperature.


The diagnosis of acute flaccid myelitis begins with thorough physical examination, checking of symptoms, and medical history. The doctor may suggest:

  • MRI. This test enables doctors to see your spinal cord and brain.
  • Nervous system examination. The doctor will perform examinations on the area of the affected body.
  • Nerve test. This test can show the reaction of muscles to the message coming from the nerves. 
  • Lab tests. This test enables your doctor to take samples of the fluid around the spinal cord, brain, respiratory fluid, stool for lab checking, and blood.

This condition is difficult to diagnose since its symptoms are similar to other neurological illnesses. So, early and proper diagnosis is needed. 


As of now, there is no particular treatment available for acute flaccid myelitis. However, some supporting treatments are used to manage symptoms. 

A neurologist or doctor specializing in spinal cord and brain may recommend occupational or physical therapy to help people with leg or arm weakness. If this is performed during the initial stage of the condition, it may enhance long-term recovery.

The doctor may also suggest treatment that lowers the body’s inflammation, like antiviral drugs or corticosteroids. Finally, the treatment will depend on your condition and its severity, so it’s better to seek immediate and professional medical help.

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