Acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) is an uncommon but deadly neurological illness that causes muscular weakness. AFM is caused by a wide range of germs (including viruses), environmental conditions, and genetics. However around 70% of cases are due to viral infections.
Viruses can enter the body through a mosquito bite or touching something infected with virus. Some viruses may also be passed from person to person via saliva or pus from a sore on the skin. A few virus types can cause symptoms of fever, headache, muscle pain, fatigue, and cough. More serious viruses can lead to pneumonia, encephalitis (altered mental status), or death. The best way to prevent virus-related illnesses is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes and other insect carriers of disease and to practice safe hygiene (hand washing after going to the bathroom, etc.).
AFM occurs when the immune system attacks the myelin sheath, which covers certain nerves. Myelin helps transmit messages between the brain and muscles. When this protective covering is damaged, communication between the brain and the rest of the body is impaired, leading to muscular weakness.
The most common type of AFM is known as transverse myelitis. In this case, the spinal cord is primarily affected along its width rather than its length.
Flaccid paralysis is a neurological illness characterized by weakness or paralysis and decreased muscle tone for no apparent reason (e.g., trauma). This aberrant situation can be caused by illness or damage to the nerves that control the implicated muscles. The word "flaccid" means "weak and limp;" thus, someone suffering from this condition appears to be weak because of loss of muscle strength.
Damage to the nervous system can cause flaccidity, including stroke, multiple sclerosis, neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease, and spinal cord injuries. Nerve damage can also come about through illness, such as Guillain-Barré syndrome or chronic alcoholism. Less commonly, cancer can cause flaccidity by destroying nerve cells within the brain or spinal column. Finally, traumatic brain injury can cause flaccidity by damaging the nerves that control movement.
People with flaccid paralysis may appear to be asleep even when awake, due to lack of awareness of surroundings and inability to respond to environmental stimuli. They may also have difficulty moving their arms and legs. Although there is generally some degree of recovery possible, the ability to move limbs again depends on which part of the body is affected. People usually become aware of their disability only when trying to move an arm or leg and encountering resistance. Even then, they may not realize why they cannot move it.
If the somatic nerves to a skeletal muscle are severed, the muscle will show flaccid paralysis. Muscles become limp and unable to contract when they reach this state. Patients with spinal cord injury may have muscular atrophy due to lack of stimulation from nerves that would normally cause contraction.
Damage to the nerve roots that supply muscles can also lead to muscular flaccidity. For example, in patients with degenerative diseases of the spine such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or multiple sclerosis (MS), the motor neurons that control muscle movement are damaged over time. This leads to progressive loss of muscle strength and mass.
Other factors can also cause muscular flaccidity include aging, alcoholism, cancer, chronic kidney disease, diabetes, iron deficiency, magnesium deficiency, porphyria, sarcoidosis, and vitamin B12 deficiency. The symptoms of these conditions will vary depending on which muscles are affected. However, most cases of muscular flaccidity can be treated if the underlying cause is found and corrected.
Neurology Flaccid paralysis is a neurological illness characterized by weakness or paralysis and decreased muscle tone for no apparent reason (e.g., trauma). The term "flaccid" means weak, limp, or unable to maintain body posture.
People with neurologic flaccidity may have difficulty moving their arms or legs. They may also have problems maintaining their balance while standing or walking. In some cases, patients may show evidence of increased muscle tone (i.e., spasticity) which prevents them from fully relaxing their muscles.
The cause of neurologic flaccidity is often unknown but may be related to disease affecting the brain stem or spinal cord. Other factors that may play a role include alcohol abuse, vitamin B12 deficiency, multiple sclerosis, syphilis, sarcoidosis, and certain medications such as anticonvulsants, chlorpromazine (Thorazine), lithium, phenothiazines, prochlorperazine (Compazine), and tricyclics.
Patients with neurologic flaccidity usually require assistance with daily tasks such as getting out of bed or the bathroom, going to the toilet, eating, dressing, and exercising. Some patients may even become dependent on others to perform these tasks for them.
How is it handled? Acute flaccid myelitis does not have a particular therapy. However, doctors might prescribe medication to assist control the symptoms. Physical and occupational therapy may be used to help you restore function in your arms and legs. Researchers are studying potential treatments under development.
What is the prognosis? The outcome for patients who recover from acute flaccid myelitis depends on how many muscles are affected. Patients who recover more completely will usually have fewer problems with mobility or walking than those who do not recover as well.
In some cases, acute flaccid myelitis can lead to long-term disability or damage to the brain or spinal cord. Most patients make a full recovery within six months to two years. However, some people remain partially impaired after recovering from acute flaccid myelitis.
Why would someone get acute flaccid myelitis? Acute flaccid myelitis can occur at any age, but it most often affects children ages 5 to 14. It is not known exactly what causes acute flaccid myelitis, but theories include infection, vaccination, chemical exposure, and other diseases.
The diagnosis of acute flaccid myelitis requires evidence of muscle weakness and loss of reflexes in addition to spinal cord involvement. There are several different types of acute flaccid myelitis.
Your muscles atrophy become flabby as a result of flaccid paralysis. It causes muscular weakness. Spastic paralysis is characterized by tight and rigid muscles. It might cause your muscles to twitch or spasm uncontrollably.
Flaccid paralysis can be caused by damage to the brain or spinal cord that interrupts the flow of information to muscle groups. This may happen as a result of stroke, traumatic brain injury, or neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. Spastic paralysis usually results from damage to the brain or spinal cord that interrupts the flow of information to the motor neurons that control muscle movement. These disorders often occur together because damage to one area of the brain can lead to damage in other areas through the release of neurotransmitters. For example, if the brain stem is damaged, then the signals reaching the muscles below this area will also be disrupted because they come from there.
People with flaccid paralysis can still move their eyes, but cannot do so voluntarily. People with spastic paralysis can sometimes move their eyes but cannot do so voluntarily. The reason for this is that the nerve cells responsible for controlling eye movement are located in the brain stem rather than in the cortex like most of the nerves controlling body movement.