Poliomyelitis - Symptom
Polio; Infantile paralysis; Post-polio syndrome
There are three basic patterns of polio infection: subclinical infections, nonparalytic, and paralytic. Approximately 95% of infections are subclinical infections, which may not have symptoms.
People with subclinical polio infection might not have symptoms, or their symptoms may last 72 hours or less.
Clinical poliomyelitis affects the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), and is divided into nonparalytic and paralytic forms. It may occur after recovery from a subclinical infection.
- Back pain or backache
- Excessive tiredness, fatigue
- Leg pain (calf muscles)
- Moderate fever
- Muscle stiffness
- Muscle tenderness and spasm in any area of the body
- Neck pain and stiffness
- Pain in front part of neck
- Pain or stiffness of the back, arms, legs, abdomen
- Skin rash or lesion with pain
Symptoms usually last 1 - 2 weeks.
- Fever 5 - 7 days before other symptoms
- Abnormal sensations (but not loss of sensation) in an area
- Bloated feeling in abdomen
- Breathing difficulty
- Difficulty beginning to urinate
- Irritability or poor temper control
- Muscle contractions or muscle spasms in the calf, neck, or back
- Muscle pain
- Muscle weakness, asymmetrical (only on one side or worse on one side)
- Comes on quickly
- Location depends on where the spinal cord is affected
- Worsens into paralysis
- Sensitivity to touch; mild touch may be painful
- Stiff neck and back
- Swallowing difficulty
Signs and tests:
The health care provider may find signs of meningeal irritation (similar to meningitis), such as stiff neck or back stiffness with difficulty bending the neck. The person also might have difficulty lifting the head or lifting the legs when lying flat on the back, and their reflexes might be abnormal.
- Routine CSF examination
- Test for levels of antibodies to the polio virus
- Viral cultures of throat washings, stools, or cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)
- Reviewed last on: 8/28/2009
- Linda Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington School of Medicine; Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
Nath A, Berger JR. Poliomyelitis. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier. 2007: chap 440.
Silver JK. Post-poliomyelitis syndrome. In: Frontera WR, Silver JK, Rizzo Jr TD, eds. Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2008: chap 137.
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