Symptoms

Symptoms of a Functional Neurological Disorder occur as a result of a problem with the nervous system. The brain fails to send or receive messages correctly, and a wide variety of symptoms may be experienced and in a lot of cases can be extremely disabling.

Symptoms may appear similar to those found in MS, Parkinson’s and Epilepsy, though the underlying cause is different. People given the FND diagnosis are not part of a homogeneous group and require an individual approach to diagnosis and care.

FND Action - SymptomsSome people may experience a variety of symptoms whereas others may have just one or two symptoms. Functional Neurological symptoms may fluctuate in severity, frequency and combinations.

It is important to recognise that even if a person does not appear to suffer stress, anxiety or depression before FND is diagnosed, the process of dealing with a chronic illness can be very stressful and lead to anxiety and depression in some people.

Functional Neurological symptoms are exceedingly common within neurology clinics yet there is a lack of ongoing support. However, there is now growing awareness that a new approach is needed to address this issue.[1]

Other health issues can be present alongside FND, so comparison in symptoms, even with others with the diagnosis, should be done with care.

PLEASE CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR IF YOU HAVE ANY CONCERNS OR QUESTIONS REGARDING YOUR SYMPTOMS

Movement and Motor

  • Tremor: uncontrollable shaking, most often in an arm or leg, that is sporadic and may disappear if the person is distracted.
  • Functional Dystonia: uncontrollable and often painful muscle spasms, which sometimes results in a hand or a foot fixed or clenched in an abnormal position. Functional Dystonia Information Sheet (provided by neurosymptoms.org)
  • Myoclonus: sudden uncontrollable movements such as jerks and twitches.
  • Gait: problems with walking e.g. dragging a leg, sudden knee buckling, uneven steps (like walking on ice, or like a robot).
  • Limb weakness: a feeling that your arm or leg doesn’t feel normal and is unable to bear weight. There may be some inconsistency with the weakness.
  • Paralysis: an inability to move any part of the body, usually on one side only but not always, which lasts a period of hours or even days with movement returning in time.
  • Swallowing difficulties: temporarily losing the ability to swallow or a feeling of having something in your throat.
  • Difficulties with speaking: speech may be slurred, stuttering, whispering or be lost altogether in a sporadic way.
  • Bladder and bowel problems: frequency, urgency, loss of sensation leading to incontinence.

Attacks/seizure of abnormal movement

See our NEAD page for information.

Sensory

  • Dissociation: feeling as if you are disconnected from the world around you.
  • Dizziness: feeling lightheaded and off balance, described as feeling like surroundings are spinning.
  • Hypersensitivity: being very sensitive to light, sound, smell, touch or taste.
  • Fleeting sensations: feeling like skin is crawling, ‘electric shock’ sensation, twitching.

Cognitive (Cog/Brain Fog)

  • Short term memory difficulties.
  • Poor concentration.
  • Word finding difficulty.

Other conditions/symptoms commonly linked to FND.

  • Chronic pain
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Migraine
  • Fibromyalgia
  • B12 Deficiency
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome

To learn more about symptoms please visit the neurosymptoms website.

CLICK HERE for information about diagnosis.

 

References
[1] Healthcare Improvement Scotland Stepped care for functional neurological symptoms. A new approach to improving outcomes for a common neurological problem in Scotland Report and recommendations February 2012 [Accessed 28th August 2016]

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