Some people who have had polio Polio Polio is a highly contagious, sometimes fatal enterovirus infection that affects nerves and can cause permanent muscle weakness, paralysis, and other symptoms. Polio is caused by a virus and... read more develop postpolio syndrome years or decades after they have recovered from polio. Postpolio syndrome is more likely to develop in older people who had a severe initial case of polio (paralytic poliomyelitis Paralytic poliomyelitis Polio is a highly contagious, sometimes fatal enterovirus infection that affects nerves and can cause permanent muscle weakness, paralysis, and other symptoms. Polio is caused by a virus and... read more ).
Muscles, usually those that were affected by polio, may become tired, painful, and weak and may waste away. However, in most people who have had polio, such symptoms are not due to postpolio syndrome but to the development of a new disorder, such as diabetes Diabetes Mellitus (DM) Diabetes mellitus is a disorder in which the body does not produce enough or respond normally to insulin, causing blood sugar (glucose) levels to be abnormally high. Urination and thirst are... read more , a ruptured (herniated) disk Herniated Disk A herniated disk occurs when the tough covering of a disk in the spine tears or ruptures. The soft, jelly-like interior of the disk may then bulge out (herniate) through the covering. Aging... read more , or osteoarthritis Osteoarthritis (OA) Osteoarthritis is a chronic disorder that causes damage to the cartilage and surrounding tissues and is characterized by pain, stiffness, and loss of function. Arthritis due to damage of joint... read more . The actual cause of postpolio syndrome is not clear but may be related to the effects of aging on nerve cells already affected by polio.
The diagnosis of postpolio syndrome is considered in people who have had polio and develop new symptoms of progressive weakness.
Postpolio syndrome cannot be cured.
Treatments are supportive depending on which muscles are weak.
Specialized physical therapy Physical Therapy (PT) Physical therapy, a component of rehabilitation, involves exercising and manipulating the body with an emphasis on the back, upper arms, and legs. It can improve joint and muscle function, helping... read more and exercise programs may be used depending on which muscles are affected.