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 found in 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, or with other conditions such as chronic pain. Therefore comparison in symptoms, even with others with the diagnosis, should be done with care.
The list of symptoms below is not inclusive as other symptoms, such as fatigue, may present as a consequence of the condition or as a comorbidity. It is for descriptive purposes only for the 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.
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. Often this presents in a stroke-like manner affecting one side of the body.
(Sometimes referred to as Non-Epileptic Attack Disorder [NEAD], Functional Seizure Disorder)
(Important to be aware that sensory symptoms are commonly associated with emotional/mental health problems. With FND, the underlining cause will be 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.