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In the early 1900s, frequent polio epidemics began appearing in the United States (mostly in cities during the warm months). In the 1940s and 1950s, it reached its peak, killing or paralyzing over half a million people every year worldwide.
Mass inoculations began in 1954 and annual cases started to decline. In 1994, the U.S. was declared polio-free and as of 2006, polio remains endemic in only four countries: India, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
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Post Polio Syndrome
Polio is caused by a virus that enters the intestinal tract. The majority of people affected with the virus had mild flu-like symptoms and recovered in 3-5 days. However, in some cases, the virus would escape the intestinal tract, enter the bloodstream, and attack the nervous system, causing damage to nerves and muscles. Recovery time took 7-14 days.
About 25% of people who survived severe cases (paralytic polio) develop additional symptoms 30-40 years after the acute infection, including extreme fatigue, muscle weakness, and pain. This condition is known as post polio syndrome, caused by progressive deterioration of nerves and muscles.
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Natural Treatment for Post Polio Syndrome
There is no cure. Post polio syndrome treatment is focused on controlling symptoms so the individual can remain active and productive.
Electrostimulation of auricular acupuncture points has been shown to be an effective natural treatment in individuals with post polio syndrome. In one study, all 12 participants obtained good or excellent results.
Exercise can be a safe and effective treatment for post polio syndrome if prescribed and monitored by an experienced health care provider. Exercise is primarily meant to help the muscles that were not (or minimally) affected by polio. Affected muscles may actually worsen with certain exercises, like weight lifting.
Prescribed exercises should include:
- specific muscle groups to exercise
- specific muscle groups to not exercise
- type of exercise, frequency, and duration.
Exercise will also help maintain a healthy weight, thus reducing stress on affected areas.
Other natural treatments for post polio syndrome include:
- hot and cold compresses
Post polio syndrome treatments should be discussed with your health care provider.
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 J Infect Dis 200 (5): 673–675
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