Diagnosis & Treatment of AFM

  • Doctors diagnose AFM by examining the nervous system in combination with reviewing pictures of the spinal cord.
  • There is no specific treatment, but doctors may recommend different interventions based on each patient.


It is important that the tests are done as soon as possible after a patient develops symptoms.

AFM is diagnosed by examining a patient’s nervous system in combination with reviewing pictures of the spinal cord. A doctor may:

• Examine the nervous system
A doctor can examine a patient’s nervous system and the places on the body where he or she has weakness, poor muscle tone, and decreased reflexes.

• Do an MRI
A doctor can also do an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) to look at a patient’s brain and spinal cord.

• Do lab tests
A doctor may do lab tests on the cerebrospinal fluid (the fluid around the brain and spinal cord).

• Check nerve conduction
A doctor may check nerve conduction (impulse sent along a nerve fiber) and response.

AFM can be difficult to diagnose because it shares many of the same symptoms as other neurologic diseases, like transverse myelitisexternal icon and Guillain-Barre syndrome. With the help of testing and examinations, doctors can distinguish between AFM and other neurologic conditions.

Learn more about the type of information that helps to determine if a patient has AFM or not.


There is no specific treatment for AFM, but a doctor who specializes in treating brain and spinal cord illnesses (neurologist) may recommend certain interventions on a case-by-case basis. For example, neurologists may recommend physical or occupational therapy to help with arm or leg weakness caused by AFM.

CDC is working closely with national experts to better understand how to treat AFM and updated our clinical management considerations. We are also working to understand the long-term outcomes (prognosis) of people with AFM.