Decades after recovery from polio, many patients develop new muscle weakness and other symptoms that can lead to increased debility. Treatment is aimed at the most prominent symptoms. Medications may help, as well as physical therapy and a carefully paced exercise program. Screening for osteopenia and osteoporosis is recommended.
Postpolio syndrome affects an estimated 60% of “paralytic” polio survivors, plus unknown numbers of patients who had subclinical polio.
Postpolio syndrome is a diagnosis of exclusion. Symptoms are related to new muscle weakness and may include muscle atrophy, myalgias, fatigue, and problems with swallowing and breathing.
No drugs specifically address postpolio syndrome.
Pyridostigmine has had mixed results for treating weakness and fatigue, as have methylphenidate and bromocriptine. Modafinil may be helpful for fatigue. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are used to treat pain.
Rehabilitation professionals who have expertise in treating polio survivors can be valuable resources in preserving function and preventing deconditioning.
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