Merck Manual

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Postpoliomyelitis Syndrome

(Postpolio Syndrome)


Brenda L. Tesini

, MD, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry

Last full review/revision Jul 2021| Content last modified Jul 2021
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Postpoliomyelitis syndrome is a group of symptoms that develops years or decades after paralytic poliomyelitis and usually affects the same muscle groups as the initial infection.

In patients who have had paralytic poliomyelitis Pathophysiology , muscle fatigue and decreased endurance, often accompanied by weakness, fasciculations, and atrophy, may develop years or decades later, particularly in older patients and in patients who were severely affected initially. Damage usually occurs in previously affected muscle groups. However, postpoliomyelitis syndrome rarely increases disability substantially. (See also Poliomyelitis Poliomyelitis Poliomyelitis is an acute infection caused by a poliovirus (an enterovirus). Manifestations include a nonspecific minor illness (abortive poliomyelitis), sometimes aseptic meningitis without... read more .)

The cause of postpoliomyelitis syndrome may be related to further loss of anterior horn cells due to aging in a population of neurons already depleted by earlier poliovirus infection.

Treatment of postpoliomyelitis syndrome is supportive.

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