Polio and Post-Polio Syndrome – Symptoms & Treatment

Post-Polio Syndrome

People who have had polio may develop post-polio syndrome (PPS) years after contracting the disease. Atrophy and eventual muscular weakening are the results. The focus of the therapy is on symptom management.

Post-Polio Syndrome

An infectious viral illness that can affect the neurological system is polio or poliomyelitis. Typically, PPS develops 15 to 40 years after the infection and recovery. PPS is thought to be the outcome of a long-term decline of motor neurons. Moreover. it is a kind of nerve cell that results in weakened and dysfunctional muscles.

Poliovirus is the cause behind both polio and post-polio syndrome. PPS is not communicable, in contrast to polio. PPS can only be acquired by polio survivors; however, not all polio survivors go on to get PPS. The United States is almost free of polio thanks to the polio vaccination. However, polio still persists in some nations, and PPS instances continue to occur.

Symptoms of Post-Polio Syndrome

Only those who have had polio experience post-polio syndrome. Typical warning signs and symptoms include:

  • Aches and weakness in the joints and muscles that get worse with time
  • Having simple tiredness and exhaustion
  • Muscular tissue loss (atrophy)
  • Issues with breathing or swallowing
  • Respiratory issues that affect sleep, such as sleep apnea
  • Less ability to tolerate cold temperatures

Most persons with post-polio syndrome make modest improvements. Also, they could go through periods of stability followed by the onset of new indications and symptoms.


There are no particular tests available to identify post-polio syndrome. Instead, medical professionals identify PPS following a physical examination and inquiries about your health history and symptoms.

They must also rule out any further illnesses that could be the source of your symptoms. To assist identify PPS and rule out other diseases, your doctor may run any of the following tests:

  • Your spinal cord can be scanned using MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and CT (computed tomography).
  • Electromyogram (EMG).
  • Muscle biopsy.
  • Spinal fluid analysis.


The different post-polio syndrome indications and symptoms do not have a single therapy. The purpose of treatment is to help you feel as comfortable and independent as possible while managing your symptoms. Here are some treatments that might help you manage the signs and symptoms of post-polio syndrome:

Energy Efficiency

To prevent weariness, this entails timing your physical activity and taking regular breaks. Moreover, you can save energy by using assistive equipment like a wheelchair, motorized scooter, cane, or walker. Installing a higher toilet seat or grab bar in the shower may also be helpful. A therapist can demonstrate your energy-saving breathing techniques.

Physical Therapy

Exercises that strengthen your muscles without wearing them out may be recommended for you by your physician or therapist. These often consist of leisurely exercises you practice every other day, such as swimming or water aerobics. It’s crucial to exercise to stay fit. But you should avoid overusing your muscles and joints or working out until you feel discomfort or exhaustion.

Therapy for Speech

A speech therapist can teach you workarounds for swallowing issues. Also, exercises that strengthen the voice may be beneficial.

Treatment for Sleep Disorders

It may be necessary for you to alter your sleeping habits. This includes avoiding sleeping on your back or utilizing a device that facilitates airway opening while you sleep. Treatment for restless legs syndrome may help you get better sleep and feel less tired if you have the condition.


Painkillers may reduce joint and muscular discomfort.

The Bottom Line

The intensity of symptoms and the specific muscles affected determine the kind of post-polio syndrome (PPS). Also, your ability to operate independently may be severely hampered by PPS symptoms. But occupational therapy and mobility aids can assist. If PPS results in weakening your swallowing and/or breathing muscles, your general health is more at risk.