A post-polio syndrome
A post-polio syndrome is a group of disabling symptoms that arise decades after the initial polio illness. These signs commonly occur between thirty to forty years after having polio.
The polio virus infections earlier caused paralysis and death. However, introducing the polio vaccine in the 1950s significantly reduced polio’s spread.
Post-polio syndrome only reoccurs in people who have had polio previously.
Common signs of post-polio syndrome include:
- Muscle and joint weakness
- Body pain that gets worse over time
- Feeling exhausted
- Misplacing muscle tissue
- Swallowing problems
- Decreased tolerance of cold temperatures
- Sleep apnea
Post-polio syndrome progresses slowly in people. These people may experience new signs followed by periods of stability.
There are several theories about what causes a post-polio syndrome, but it is still perplexing.
When poliovirus infects affects nerve cells called motor neurons which carry signals (electrical impulses) from your brain and to your muscles. Poliovirus mainly affects the motor neurons in the spinal cord.
Each motor neuron consists of three essential components:
- A significant branching fiber (axon)
- Numerous smaller branching fibers (dendrites)
- A cell body
Post-polio syndrome treatment
There’s no cure for post-polio syndrome, but support and various treatments are known to help manage the symptoms and improve your quality of life.
Some of the ways that you may manage symptoms of the post-polio syndrome include:
- Rest and exercise: such as recognizing to stop activities before becoming fatigued
- Mobility aids: such as walking sticks or electric scooters
- Weight control and healthy eating: to avoid putting unnecessary stress on muscles and joints
- Painkilling medicine: to support and relieve muscle or joint pain
- Psychological support: such as discussions with a doctor
Reviewed by – Dr. Priyanka, MBBS MD Microbiology
Page last reviewed: 04 October 2022