Post-polio syndrome (PPS) is a condition that can occur in people who have previously had polio, a viral infection that affects the nerves and can cause paralysis. PPS usually occurs many years after the initial infection, often 10-40 years later, and is characterized by a range of symptoms that can affect mobility, breathing, and other bodily functions.
Some common symptoms of PPS include:
Muscle weakness and fatigue, especially in the muscles that were previously affected by polio
Joint and muscle pain
Difficulty swallowing or speaking
Difficulty with fine motor skills, such as writing or using utensils
Decreased endurance and tolerance for physical activity
Sensitivity to cold temperatures
Depression and anxiety
There is no cure for PPS, but treatment focuses on managing symptoms and improving quality of life. Treatment options may include physical therapy to improve muscle strength and flexibility, occupational therapy to help with daily activities, assistive devices such as braces or wheelchairs to improve mobility, and medication to manage pain, fatigue, or other symptoms. It's important for individuals with PPS to work closely with a healthcare provider who is familiar with the condition and its associated complications.
When someone contracts polio, the virus attacks and damages the nerve cells that control the muscles. The body can often recover partially from this damage, allowing people to regain some muscle strength and function. However, the damage to the nerve cells is not completely repaired, and the nerve cells may continue to deteriorate over time. The reasons for this ongoing deterioration are not fully understood, but it may be related to the ongoing demands placed on the weakened nerves as the body ages.