6/26/2010

Post Polio Syndrome % Symtoms, Cause , Diagnosis, Prognosis

Post-polio syndrome can affect polio survivors many years after recovering from an initial acute attack of the poliovirus. This syndrome is characterized by new muscle pain, worsening of existing weakness, and new weakness or paralysis. The cause is unknown, and there is currently no cure. Treatment is focused on relieving the symptoms. Researchers estimate that this syndrome affects 25 to 50 percent of polio survivors in the United States.
                 Post-Polio Syndrome
                Cause of Post-Polio Syndrome
                Symptoms of Post-Polio Syndrome
                Post-Polio Syndrome Diagnosis
                Post-Polio Syndrome Treatment
                Post-Polio Syndrome Prognosis
                Post-Polio Syndrome Research
                Preventing Post-Polio Syndrome
                Post-Polio Syndrome and Exercise
Post-polio syndrome is a condition that affects some polio survivors many years after recovery from an initial acute attack of the poliovirus. Decades later, 25 percent to 40 percent of people who contracted paralytic poliomyelitis in childhood will develop:
               New muscle pain
               Worsening of existing weakness
               New weakness or paralysis.
Post-polio syndrome is not an infectious disease, and people who are experiencing it do not shed poliovirus.
What Causes It?
The cause of this condition is not known. However, research scientists believe the new weakness seen in post-polio syndrome is related to the damage of individual nerve terminals in the motor units that remain after the initial poliovirus infection.
 Risk Factors for Post-Polio Syndrome
While risk factors do not cause post-polio syndrome, certain factors can increase a person's risk for developing the condition. Risk factors include:
   Increasing length of time since acute poliovirus infection
Presence of permanent disability after recovery from the original polio virus infection
Being female.
Symptoms

The symptoms of post-polio syndrome can vary in number and severity between different people with the condition. Some patients experience only minor symptoms of post-polio syndrome, while others develop more severe symptoms.
             
Common post-polio syndrome symptoms can include:

               Slowly progressive muscle weakness
               Loss of muscle
               Unaccustomed fatigue
               Joint pain
               Increasing skeletal deformities such as scoliosis.
Diagnosing Post-Polio Syndrome

In order to make a diagnosis of post-poliosyndrome, the doctor will ask the patient a number of questions, perform a physical exam, and recommend certain tests looking for signs and symptoms of post-polio syndrome. Some of these tests may include:

  Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
                                  Computed tomography (CT)
                                  Neuroimaging tests
                                  Electromyography (EMG).
               
These tests can help diagnose post-poliosyndrome (or even another medical condition), but they do not identify survivors at greatest risk for new progression of muscle weakness.

Before making a diagnosis, the doctor will also consider other medical conditions that can share similar symptoms with post-polio syndrome. Some of these conditions include:

            Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also called Lou Gehrig's disease
             Depression
            Chronic fatigue syndrome.
Treatment Options

Currently, there is no cure for post-polio syndrome. Therefore, treatment is focused on relieving the symptoms. Some treatment options for this condition include lifestyle changes and support. Research scientists continue to actively look for other post-polio treatment options.


Post-Polio Syndrome and Exercise

Post-polio syndrome symptoms of pain, weakness, and fatigue can result from the overuse and misuse of muscles and joints. These same symptoms can also result from disuse of muscles and joints. This fact has caused a misunderstanding about whether to encourage or discourage exercise for polio survivors or individuals who already have post-polio syndrome.


(Click Post-Polio Syndrome and Exercise for more information.)
The Prognosis

Post-polio syndrome is a very slow, progressive condition marked by long periods of stability.

The severity of post-polio syndrome will depend on the degree of the weakness and disability that remained after an individual had the original polio attack. People who had only minimal polio symptoms from the original attack and subsequently develop post-polio syndrome will most likely experience only mild symptoms. People who were originally hit hard by thepoliovirus and were left with severe weakness may develop a more severe case of post-polio syndrome with a greater loss of muscle function, difficulty in swallowing, and more periods of fatigue.

(Click Post-Polio Syndrome Prognosis for more information.)


How Common Is Post-Polio Syndrome?

According to estimates by the National Center for Health Statistics, more than 440,000 polio survivors in the United States may be at risk for post-polio syndrome. Researchers are unable to establish a firm prevalence rate, but they estimate that this condition affects 25 percent to 50 percent of these survivors, or possibly as many as 60 percent.

The Polio Crusade

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