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Has polio been investigated as a possible illness to influence arthritis becoming inevitable?

Q) Has polio been investigated as a possible illness to influence arthritis becoming inevitable? The summer after I was born in 1924 I contacted 'infant paralysis'. It affected my right hip and leg, which grew two-and-a-half inches shorter than my left. As a child I wore a built-up boot and callipers. I developed osteoarthritis in my forties in my hip, knee, ankle, neck and arms and have been unable to walk for the past 20 years so have been confined to wheelchair.
Doris, Great Holm, Milton Keynes (Summer 2013)

A) There are no formal studies but the association between polio and arthritis has long been recognised. Polio is a disease of the nerves and, if it happens in childhood, affected limbs and spine do not develop fully. In later life this, of course, alters the mechanics of both the affected limbs and the unaffected limbs, putting additional strain on the bones and joints. Premature osteoarthritis of the major joints and spine is the result. Some of the worst cases I have seen have been in ex-polio sufferers. Thankfully, as polio is eradicated, this is becoming an increasingly uncommon occurrence.

This answer was provided by Dr Philip Helliwell for the Summer 2013 edition of our magazine, Arthritis Today, and was correct at the time of publication.

Send your questions for Dr Tom Margham to enquiries@arthritisresearchuk.org


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