What Are Functional Neurological Disorders?

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Functional neurological disorders (FND) are medical conditions in which the nervous system has a problem functioning. This includes how the brain and body sends and/or receives signals rather than a structural neurological disorder or disease process such as multiple sclerosis or stroke.

Here at Plasticity Centers, our functional neurologists treat patients with both functional neurological disorders and structural neurological disorders, and in today’s blog post, we’re diving into functional neurological disorders.

Overview of Functional Neurological Disorders

If you think about the brain as a computer, then functional neurological disorders would be a problem with your brain’s “software” rather than an issue with “hardware.” The hardware itself isn’t damaged (like it may be in a traumatic brain injury or stroke), but the software is acting up and not working properly. This means that the brain scan of individuals with FNDs usually looks normal, unless that person also suffers from another neurological condition.

Signs & Symptoms

Patients with functional neurological disorders experience a wide range of symptoms, which can be physical, sensory, and/or cognitive. You may also experience a combination of multiple symptoms. A few common symptoms include:

  • Limb weakness, tremors, spasms, jerky movements
  • Slurred or stuttered speech
  • Numbness or tingling in face, torso, or limbs
  • Loss of vision or double vision

Symptoms can fluctuate or vary from time to time, or all the time, and if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to talk with your doctor.

Common Causes

The exact causes of functional neurological disorders is unknown, but there is much research being done to provide information on how FNDs develop as well as treatment options. There are some predisposing factors, though, that can make people more susceptible to FNDs, such as having another neurological condition or experiencing chronic pain or stress. 

FNDs have historically been thought of as an entirely psychological disorder, but modern theories propose that FNDs have many different causes. In some patients, psychological factors like stress or trauma may cause the FND, but in others, a physical injury may be the cause. The brain is complex, and we’re learning new things every single day!

Treatment Options

You should consult your doctor if you believe you are suffering from any kind of neurological disorder, including functional neurological disorders. Your doctor may refer you to specialists or to a functional neurologist such as Plasticity Centers. Our therapies are part of a holistic treatment plan, and many of our patients are also seeing other doctors.

Plasticity Centers

If you have a functional neurological disorder and are looking for alternative treatment options, schedule a free consultation with Plasticity Centers in Denver, Atlanta, or Orlando.
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