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Symptoms of Post-Polio Syndrome

Symptoms of Post-Polio Syndrome vary from individual to individual. Age, degree of disability and the severity of your initial bout with polio are all factors which can directly affect the symptoms you may have. Four broad categories of symptoms have been identified:

  • Unaccustomed fatigue after modest exercise or activity.
  • Respiratory problems which may present as insomnia, restless sleep. nightmares, morning headache or confusion, shallow breathing patterns or breathlessness even during speaking.
  • Muscle weakness and loss of muscle use. Most commonly muscles that were affected by the first polio attack recovered well and have been used strenuously since. Early symptoms you may notice before lasting muscle weakness occurs include passing fatigue or weakness after exercise, pain in specific muscles after exercise or muscle twitching.
  • Joint and/or muscle pain. Although some aches and pains are part of the normal aging process, the pains polio survivors develop usually stem from longstanding muscle weakness and imbalances. Some of the problems typically seen in polio survivors include:
    • osteoarthritis of the spine and peripheral joints
    • scoliosis (curvature of the spine)
    • bursitis and tendinitis
    • osteoporosis of the spine and long bones in people more severely disabled by polio
    • foot and toe deformities
    • carpal tunnel syndrome
    • chronic pain in the back, arms or legs or "flu-like" muscle aches