Polio Home > Post-Polio Syndrome Diagnosis

Criteria for Diagnosing Post-Polio Syndrome

Doctors typically use the following criteria to establish a post-polio syndrome diagnosis:
  • Prior paralytic poliomyelitis with evidence of motor neuron loss, as confirmed by history of the acute paralytic illness, signs of residual weakness and atrophy of muscles on neuromuscular examination, and signs of nerve damage on electromyography (EMG).
  • A period of partial or complete functional recovery after acute paralytic poliomyelitis, followed by an interval (usually 15 years or more) of stable neuromuscular function.
  • Gradual onset of progressive and persistent new muscle weakness or abnormal muscle fatigability (decreased endurance), with or without generalized fatigue, loss of muscle, or muscle and joint pain. Onset may at times follow trauma, surgery, or a period of inactivity, and can appear to be sudden. Less commonly, symptoms attributed to post-polio syndrome include new problems with breathing or swallowing.
  • Symptoms that persist for at least one year.
  • Exclusion of other neuromuscular, medical, and orthopedic problems as causes of symptoms.

Summary of Post-Polio Syndrome Diagnosis

Polio survivors with post-polio syndrome symptoms need to visit a physician trained in neuromuscular disorders to clearly establish potential causes for declining strength and to assess progression of weakness not explained by other health problems.
It is important to remember that polio survivors may acquire other illnesses and should always have regular checkups and preventive diagnostic tests, such as mammograms, Pap smears, and colorectal exams.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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