Symptoms

Symptoms of a Functional Neurological Disorder occur as a result of a problem with the functioning of 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 diagnosed with a Functional Neurological Disorder are not part of a homogeneous group and require an individual approach to treatment and care.

Some people may experience a variety of symptoms whereas others may have just one or two symptoms. Symptoms may fluctuate in severity, frequency and combinations.

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

A Functional Neurological Disorder may co-exist with other commonly-known neurological diseases or chronic conditions. Therefore, comparison in symptoms, even with others with the diagnosis, should be done with care.

The list below is for descriptive purpose only, and should not be used to self-diagnose. You must always consult a Clinician if you have any new symptoms, or questions about symptoms you may be experiencing.

Movement and Motor (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 twitches.
  • 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 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, which can last for a period of hours or even days, and most often returns in time.

Seizures (Non Epileptic Attack Disorder, Functional Seizure Disorder)

See our NEAD page for information

Other symptoms which may co-exist with FNDs:

Sensory

    • 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

    • Short term memory difficulties.
    • Poor concentration.
    • Word finding difficulty.
    • Difficulties with speech.

To learn more about symptoms that may be present with a Functional Neurological Disorder please visit the neurosymptoms website.

CLICK HERE for information about diagnosis.

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