Post Polio Syndrome – Symptoms, Treatment, Prognosis, Diagnosis

What is Post Polio Syndrome?

Polio or otherwise known as poliomyelitis is a disease condition that is virally infectious which can strike anytime in the person’s life. It targets the nervous system of the person affected. Meanwhile post polio syndrome is a disease condition that occurs in persons who survive and recovery from polio disease. It usually affects 30 to 40 years old victims.

Post Polio Syndrome Pictures

Post Polio Syndrome

Post Polio Syndrome Symptoms and Signs

Person who have post polio syndrome may manifest the following symptoms and signs:

  • Atrophy or weakness of the muscle
  • Progressive muscle pain
  • Progressive joint pain
  • General body malaise
  • Easily gets tired even with minimal activity
  • Breathing problems
  • Swallowing problems
  • Sleep apnea
  • Decrease tolerance in cold climate
  • Gaining of weight
  • Walking difficulties
  • Abnormal spine curvature
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Periodic limb movement disorder
  • Stress
  • Depression

Post Polio Syndrome Causes & Risk Factors

The exact etiology of why post polio syndrome occurs is still unknown. However, there are theories that pinpoint the possible cause of the disease syndrome. The general theory includes:

Nerve cell or Neural Degeneration during the Acute Polio

What happens is that when the nerve cell is being invaded by the poliovirus, result to the damage of the neurons and leads to the lack of the muscle’s nerve supply. If this continues, it will affect more and more muscular nerve cell which leads to the loss of function of the muscles which leads to paralysis or weakness of the muscle.

Recuperation period from the Acute Paralytic Polio disease

When the person recuperates from the paralytic polio, the motor nerve cell in the spinal cord and brain stem which have survived will reconnect to the muscular nerve cell which is called as sprouts. The newly formed sprouts trigger the contraction of the muscles leading to full or partial regaining of the muscles which lead to having many nerve cell motors that lead to an abnormal supply of muscular fibers.

Post Polio Syndrome Mechanism

According to the theory, there are new sprouts that are not stable and will lead to degeneration due to the over working of the neural cells which results to loss of function and weakness.

Post Polio Syndrome Diagnosis

Persons with post polio syndrome are diagnosed by the physicians. They usually look for indicator signs such as:

Gradual onset

It often is not noticeable until it will interfere with the person’s day to day activities. The persons will notice abnormality in the decrease endurance of the muscle or weakness of the new muscles with or without joint and muscle pain, generalized malaise and atrophy of the muscles.

Previous diagnosis of polio

It will be made known via asking of the medical history. Normally the acute polio occurs during the childhood stage. The late effects are evident upon the adolescent stage or during old stage.

Long interval after recuperation

Persons in the recovery stage of the disease condition, the person affected will live for many years minus the symptoms and signs. The late effects are usually manifested 15 years after it was first diagnose.

The diagnostic test that diagnoses this disease condition is usually done through:

Imaging Test

Imaging tests such as CT scan or MRI that gives out images of the spinal cord and the person’s brain. It is necessary for the person to exclude any spinal disorders like degenerative spine condition, spinal stenosis, or spondylosis.

Muscle Biopsy

It is done to known if the typical abnormalities in the nerve are due to the polio virus.

Blood tests

Normally, persons who are diagnosed with post polio syndrome have blood tests that are normal. However, if the person’s results are abnormal it may be due to other underlying problems.

EMG or Electromyography and nerve conduction studies

The Electromyography studies will measure the electrical discharges that your muscle produces. What happens is that a thin needle electrode is inserted into the person’s muscles. Then the instrument will record the electric activity that is within the person’s muscles during the resting phase and contraction phase. In the other variation, called the nerve conduction studies, what happens here is that there are two electrodes which are tape into the person’s skin in the area that is located above the nerve which the physician likes to study. A small shock is given to the person’s nerve which will measure the speed of the signals of the nerve. Lastly, this diagnostic examination is done to rule out any other disease condition.

Post Polio Syndrome Treatment

Persons who are diagnosed with pos polio syndrome will be treated with either:


Usually physician will prescribed the persons with this kind of disease condition, pain relievers such as ibuprofen and aspirins. Other physicians will prescribe anti-inflammatory medications. Some other drugs which can aid in the symptom relief are still under study. Such of these drugs includes amantadine, modafinil, pyridostigmine and others.

Physical Therapy

Exercises are prescribed to strengthen the muscles of the patient to prevent muscle fatigue experience. Activities which are strenuous are usually recommended. Such activities include water aerobics or swimming. Over usage of muscles and joint beyond the point that one can take should be avoided.

Occupational Therapy

What it basically does it helps in the re-modification of the person’s environment such as installing of grab bars in the comfort rooms.

Speech Therapy

It is needed since the person will experience muscle weakness in the throat which will lead to difficulty in speech. Hence, speech therapy is needed.

Energy conservation

This is needed to reduce fatigue episodes. It requires a pace of physical activity and a combination of rest periods and perhaps a usage of assistive devices such as wheel chair, cane, walker and the like will help in achieving such goal.

Sleep apnea Treatment

Treatment includes avoiding sleeping on the back or using a device that helps in the opening of the airway that is blocked.

Psychological Treatment

It may only been needed if the patient are showing signs of depression.

Post Polio Syndrome Prognosis

The prognosis of post polio syndrome will depend on the severity of the virus itself. If the persons had minimal or mild attack of the virus, it will most likely for the person to experience mild symptoms and will have a good prognosis compared to that of the persons having severe type of the virus.

Post Polio Syndrome Complications

In addition to the physical changes or symptoms manifested, the person with this disease condition if not treated or is not responding well to the treatment given may experience the following complications such as:

  • Scoliosis
  • Entrapment syndromes
  • Herniated disc
  • Muscular atrophy
  • Neuropathies
  • Arthritis

Post Polio Syndrome Prevention

As of the moment there are no ways that is presently found to halt the deterioration of the person’s neurons. Yet, physician recommends to persons affected, in the prevention of the worsening of the disease condition such activities:

  • Proper sleep, at least 8 hours a day
  • Well balanced diet
  • Avoiding unhealthy lifestyle such as overeating and smoking
  • Do follow an exercise process prescribed or suggested by a physician
  • Use of assistive devices
  • Take medications as prescribed by the physician

4 thoughts on “Post Polio Syndrome – Symptoms, Treatment, Prognosis, Diagnosis

  • 17/04/2013 at 6:05 PM

    Aw, this was an incredibly good post. Finding the
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  • 25/02/2017 at 1:13 PM

    I am a 75 year old women who qualified as a psychologist . From the age of 20 I started to do exercises . I contracted cancer 10 years ago but got into remission very quickly 4 months later Due to medication i suffered a stroke but also return to my practice a few months later The 10 years leading up to 2016 were-extremely stress full due to work with the returning contractors of Iraq and taught at a college plus my private practice . Due to a total collapse in March 2016 I retired. For the last twenty years my fatigue after exercise were getting worse and worse. I did acupunture and eating healthy and meditate and use self hypnosis as I am qualified hypnosis practitioner .

  • 03/12/2017 at 5:08 AM

    Post Polio in western society, will obviously disappear over time, so I believe money will not be spent finding a cure, why bother, if like me you’ve got post polio you are most likely to be an older person why waste money on a syndrome that’s going to disappear in the next fifteen or twenty years, scientists will get no credit for it


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