Functional Neurological Disorder (FND)

Functional neurological disorder, a more contemporary and comprehensive phrase encompassing what certain individuals refer to as conversion disorder, encompasses neurological symptoms stemming from the nervous system. These symptoms defy explanation through neurological illness or other medical factors. Nevertheless, it is important to acknowledge that these symptoms are authentic and contribute to considerable distress or impediments in normal functioning.

Functional Neurological Disorder (FND) delineates a condition characterized by an aberration in the processing of information between the brain and the body. An analogy can be drawn between the brain and a computer system for better comprehension. In individuals afflicted with FND, there is no discernible impairment to the brain’s physical structure or hardware. Rather, the malfunction lies within the brain’s software or programming.

The irregularities associated with FND manifest within a realm of the brain that eludes conscious control. This encompasses manifestations such as muscular weakness in the limbs and epileptic episodes. Ancillary symptoms like fatigue or pain, though not directly attributed to FND, frequently coexist with the condition.

Early diagnosis and treatment can help with recovery.


Symptoms of Functional
Neurological Disorder

The indications and manifestations of functional neurologic disorder may diverge, contingent upon the nature of the functional neurological symptoms, and they are of considerable magnitude to induce impairment, thereby necessitating medical assessment. These symptoms possess the capacity to influence bodily movement, functional capacity, and sensory perception.

Indications and symptoms that pertain to bodily movement and functional capacity might encompass:

1. Muscle weakness or paralysis
2. Irregular movements, like tremors or challenges in walking
3. Deterioration in equilibrium
4. Challenges in swallowing or the sensation of a “lump in the throat”
5. Seizures or instances of trembling and apparent loss of consciousness (non-epileptic seizures)
6. Periods of unresponsiveness

Indications and symptoms impacting sensory perception may involve:

1. Numbness or diminished tactile sensation
2. Speech impairments, such as inability to articulate or slurred speech
3. Visual disturbances, including double vision or complete loss of sight
4. Hearing impairments or complete loss of hearing
5. Cognitive difficulties encompassing memory and concentration.

Causes of Functional
Neurological Disorder

It is understood that the symptoms of Functional Neurological Disorder (FND) arise due to disruptions in the brain’s ability to transmit and receive messages within itself and with other bodily components. Through the utilization of research methodologies, scientists have been able to observe that specific neural circuits within the brain exhibit aberrant functioning among individuals with FND.

The precise origin of functional neurologic disorder remains unidentified. The hypotheses regarding the cerebral processes leading to symptom manifestation are intricate and encompass numerous mechanisms that can diverge based on the particular type of functional neurological symptoms. Essentially, regions of the brain responsible for regulating muscular and sensory functions might be implicated, even in the absence of any disease or anomaly.

Functional neurologic disorder symptoms might emerge suddenly following a distressing occurrence or in response to emotional or physical trauma. Other catalysts could involve alterations or disruptions in cerebral operations at the structural, cellular, or metabolic levels. Nonetheless, pinpointing the exact trigger for symptom onset is not always feasible.

For some individuals, past or ongoing stressful events might be pertinent to the occurrence of FND, while for others, stress may not play a significant role. The propensity to develop FND is heightened in the presence of pre-existing neurological conditions.

Diagnostics of Functional
Neurological Disorder

In instances where an underlying cause entails a neurological disorder or an alternative medical condition, prompt identification and treatment might hold significance. In cases where the diagnosis aligns with functional neurologic disorder (FND), treatment measures could ameliorate symptoms and serve to mitigate potential future complications. During the diagnostic process for FND, your healthcare provider will undertake an evaluation to ascertain the presence of typical clinical attributes associated with the disorder.

Despite this, your healthcare provider might still opt to conduct assessments for other illnesses and conditions prior to confirming an FND diagnosis. This approach is rooted in the fact that numerous conditions share similar symptoms, and approximately one-quarter of cases involving FND also coincide with another neurological condition. It’s conceivable for an individual to experience both FND and conditions such as sciatica, carpal tunnel syndrome, epilepsy, or multiple sclerosis (MS).

However, the diagnosis of FND should be rendered on the basis of the presence of clinical characteristics specific to FND. It should not be established solely due to the absence of evidence pointing to other conditions or ailments. Given that the symptoms of FND are intermittently present, your healthcare provider may request that you record videos of your symptoms during episodes of exacerbation. This documentation aids them in observing the nature of your symptoms and their impact on you.

Complications of Functional
Neurological Disorder

Certain indications of functional neurologic disorder, particularly when left untreated, have the potential to lead to significant impairment and diminished quality of life, resembling the challenges posed by medical conditions or diseases.

Functional neurologic disorder could be correlated with:

  • Pain
  • Anxiety disorders, encompassing panic disorder
  • Depressive symptoms
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue

Treatment of Functional
Neurological Disorder

Functional Neurologic Disorder exhibits a wide spectrum of variability. While some individuals experience transient symptoms, others endure them over prolonged periods. Effective treatments are available for managing and ameliorating FND. These interventions primarily encompass rehabilitative therapies designed to enhance daily functioning, often involving a process of “retraining the brain.” While some individuals respond exceptionally well to treatment and may achieve remission, others continue to experience FND symptoms despite intervention.

Specialized physiotherapy and rehabilitation plays a crucial role in FND treatment, aiding in the restoration of proper bodily movement patterns and assisting in the rebuilding of lost strength and stamina.

Psychological therapy can contribute by equipping individuals with strategies to cope with low mood, anxiety, and the fluctuating nature of FND. The psychotherapists also provide insights to foster a better understanding of the condition. In cases where past traumas impede recovery, trauma-focused therapy might prove beneficial.

Speech and language therapists are available to address difficulties with speech or swallowing through tailored techniques, such as sound articulation exercises and breathing pattern practice during speech.

Medication can also play a role in alleviating certain FND-related issues like pain, depression, and anxiety. However, it’s important to note that specific medications, such as opiates like morphine, dihydrocodeine, or codeine, can exacerbate FND symptoms. It’s advisable to have a conversation with your healthcare provider about your current medications and potential interactions with FND.