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Post-Polio Syndrome

 What is post-polio syndrome?
 What is the cause?
 What are the symptoms?
 How is it diagnosed?
 How is it treated?
 How can I take care of myself?

What is post-polio syndrome?

Post-polio syndrome (PPS) is a condition you can get many years after you recover from polio.

Polio is a disease caused by a virus. The disease was very common in the 1900s up through the 1950s. Since then polio vaccination has almost eliminated polio worldwide. The last outbreak of polio in the US was in 1954.

What is the cause?

The exact cause of PPS is not known. When you had polio, the polio virus damaged or destroyed nerve cells that control muscle movement. Nerve cells that were not damaged might have grown extra branches to help muscles work again. These extra nerve branches may have weakened over time so that some of your muscles no longer work properly.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms may include:

How is it diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms and medical history and examine you. You may have tests or scans to check for other possible causes of your symptoms, such as a stroke.

How is it treated?

PPS cannot be cured, but treatment can help lessen or prevent some symptoms.

Physical therapy and speech therapy

Your provider may recommend a TENS unit, which relieves pain by sending small electrical impulses to your nerves through patches put on the skin. The electrical impulses block pain.


Counseling can help you cope with stress, frustration, depression, and other emotions.

PPS worsens very slowly. There may be long periods of time when it does not get worse. PPS usually is not life threatening unless it causes severe breathing problems.

How can I take care of myself?

Ask your healthcare provider:

healthinformatics info


"Post-Polio Syndrome Fact Sheet." National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). NIH Publication No. 06-4030, 22 Oct. 2010. Web. Accessed Nov. 2010. .

Koopman FS, Uegaki K, Gilhus NE, Beelen A, de Visser M, Nollet F

Murray B, Mitsumoto H. Chapter 74 - Disorders of Upper and Lower Motor Neurons; in Daroff RB et al, eds: Bradley's Neurology in Clinical Practice, 6th ed.; Elsevier, 2012. Accessed via MDConsult, March 18, 2013.

Treatment for postpolio syndrome. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011.

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Last Modified: 2015-03-02

Last Reviewed: 2014-06-24

Website Updated: August 2015

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This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.

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