Symptoms of a Functional Neurological Disorder occur as a result of a problem with the functioning of the brain/nervous system.
The brain/nervous system fails to send and/or receive signals correctly around the body, which can result in a variety of movement/motor and sensory disturbances. In a lot of cases symptoms can be extremely disabling and unpredictable.
Symptoms may look similar to those seen with MS, Parkinson’s and Epilepsy, however the underlying cause is different. People diagnosed with Functional Neurological Disorder are not part of a homogeneous group, and therefore symptoms can vary from person to person. Some may experience a variety of symptoms, whereas others may have just one or two symptoms. Symptoms may fluctuate in severity, frequency and combinations.
Functional neurological symptoms may co-exist with other commonly-known neurological diseases/disorders. Therefore comparison in symptoms, even with others with the diagnosis, should be done with care.
The list of symptoms below is not inclusive, but the more common symptoms which may lead to an FND diagnosis. For further information about symptoms please visit the neurosymptoms website. Other symptoms, such as fatigue and chronic pain, may present as a consequence of the condition or as a comorbidity.
The list below is for descriptive purposes only for possible diagnostic symptoms of FND, and should not be used to self-diagnose.
(Sometimes referred to as Functional Movement Disorder)
Tremor: uncontrollable shaking, most often in an arm or leg, that can be sporadic and may disappear if the person is distracted.
Functional Dystonia: uncontrollable and often painful muscle spasms which may result in, for example, a hand clenched, or a foot fixed, or facial spasms.
Functional Myoclonus: sudden uncontrollable movements such as jerks and jumps, without being startled.
Functional Tics: involuntary rapid and repetitive movement and sound.
Gait difficulties: problems with walking e.g. dragging a leg, sudden knee buckling (drop attacks), uneven steps (like walking on ice or lack of leg coordination).
Limb and muscle weakness: a feeling that your arm or leg doesn’t feel normal and is unable to bear weight. Can affect muscle control such as with the bladder and bowel. There may be some inconsistency with the weakness.
Paralysis: an inability to move any part of the body, which can last for a period of hours or even days, and most often returns in time. This may present in a stroke-like manner effecting one side of the body, a specific limb, effect both legs together or full body paralysis can occur.
(Formerly known as Non-Epileptic Attack Disorder [NEAD])
(Important to be aware that sensory symptoms can also be associated with emotional/mental health problems, other diagnosis’, and general aging. With FND, the underlining cause is different)
Fleeting sensations: feeling like skin is crawling, or electric shock sensation, or twitching.
Hypersensitivity: being over sensitive to light, sound, smell, touch or taste.
Cognitive problems: such as memory loss, poor concentration, word finding difficulties, and speech disturbances.