Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Brain & Nervous System Health Center

Font Size

Post-Polio Syndrome - Topic Overview

How is it treated?

Post-polio syndrome is a condition that you may have for the rest of your life. The goal of treatment is to help you control symptoms and learn ways to stay active in spite of your muscle weakness. Here are some things you can do to stay active and feel better:

  • Get enough exercise, and get enough rest. Finding this balance is the most important part of your treatment. Work with your doctor or a physical therapist to plan an exercise program that will help strengthen your muscles without making your pain and fatigue worse. Try to adjust your daily schedule so that your routine is less tiring, and make time for rest periods or naps. Ask others for help.
  • Use ice, heat, and physical therapies like massage. These can help relieve pain.
  • Try medicines for pain, fatigue, and sleep problems. Talk with your doctor about what medicines can help.
  • Try to stay at a healthy weight. This can help reduce stress on your joints. Eat healthy foods, and stay as active as you can.
  • Use assistive devices to make activities easier. An occupational therapist can help you find what devices might be most helpful, such as a cane, different types of braces or splints, or a powered chair.

If your condition gets worse, your treatment needs may increase. Be sure to see your doctor whenever new symptoms occur or your symptoms get worse.

Depression is common in people who have post-polio syndrome, as with many long-term illnesses. But it may be hard to recognize, because symptoms of fatigue, low energy, and sleep problems can occur with both conditions. If you think you may be depressed, talk to your doctor. Treatment can often greatly improve symptoms of depression.

Who is at risk for post-polio syndrome?

Not everyone who had polio gets post-polio syndrome. It's hard to predict who will get symptoms, when symptoms will begin, and how severe they will be. The exact amount of time it takes for symptoms to start is different for each person. Symptoms may have started as soon as 15 years after you had polio.

You are more likely to get post-polio syndrome if you:

  • Had polio when you were a teen or an adult, rather than as a child.
  • Had serious muscle weakness or breathing problems when you had polio.
  • Recovered well from the polio. The more fully a person recovered from the polio, the more likely it is that he or she will get post-polio syndrome.

It's hard to know how many adults who had polio will get post-polio syndrome. The symptoms (such as fatigue and weakness) are sometimes ignored or considered part of "normal aging." Between 2 and 4 out of 10 adults who had polio may get post-polio syndrome.1

1|2
1|2

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 08, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
Next Article:

Today on WebMD

Depressed
Slideshow
3d scan of fractured skull
Slideshow
 
human brain waves
Article
brain maze
fitQuiz
 
senior man
Article
brain research briefing
Article
 
Syringe
Article
graphic of human head
Article
 
mans hands on laptop keyboard
Article
brain illustration stroke
Slideshow
 
most common stroke symptoms
Article
Parkinsons Disease Medications
Article