Muscular effects in late polio

Acta Physiol Scand. 2001 Mar;171(3):335-40. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-201x.2001.00836.x.


New or increased muscular weakness, fatigue and muscle and joint pain with neuropathic electromyography (EMG) changes in a person with a confirmed history of polio constitute the cardinal symptoms of the post-polio syndrome. Unusual tiredness or fatigue is a common complaint in late polio subjects as is intolerance to cold. Fatigue in polio subjects can have several explanations: emotional fatigue, central nervous system fatigue, 'general' fatigue and/or neuromuscular fatigue. Some studies indicate central fatigue, but it is unclear how often and to which degree there will be a central muscular fatigue. Polio patients are known to be deconditioned (reduced function because of low activity level), and aerobic power is reduced. Defects in the neuromuscular transmission may be present but are not seen in all post-polio subjects with reduction in force and increased fatigability. The fatigue experienced by late polio patients is most likely an augmented peripheral muscle fatigue. Possible explanations may be an imperfection in the sarcoplasmatic reticulum with altered calcium release mechanisms (activation) or in sliding filament function (contractile properties). This may be a secondary effect to the enlarged muscle fibres. However, the prolonged subjective feeling of fatigue reported despite unchanged maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) remains unexplained.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Electromyography
  • Humans
  • Muscle Fatigue
  • Muscle Weakness / etiology
  • Muscle Weakness / physiopathology*
  • Muscle Weakness / psychology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiopathology*
  • Postpoliomyelitis Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Postpoliomyelitis Syndrome / physiopathology*