Banner Health’s neurologists are experts in treating patients suffering from functional neurological disorders. We take a compassionate, collaborative and highly personalized approach to your care. Our experienced team is dedicated to getting you answers and solutions quickly, so you can start feeling better.
Although relatively common, most people haven’t heard of functional neurological disorders (FNDs). FNDs are debilitating medical conditions that affect the brain and nervous system. FNDs are very real diseases, with symptoms that cause significant distress and disability if left untreated.
A functional neurological disorder is diagnosed when a patient has neurological and psychiatric symptoms that can’t be explained by a known neurological disorder or medical disease. Patients with an FND experience a wide variety of neurological symptoms, including limb weakness, seizures, numbness and vision problems.
FNDs can be hard to understand. Symptoms differ patient-to-patient and can mimic other medical and mental health illnesses. FNDs can be attributed to biological, environmental and psychological vulnerabilities; however, their exact causes are unknown.
Banner Health’s multidisciplinary team is experienced in evaluating and caring for patients with FNDs and their families. With early diagnosis and treatment, successful recovery is possible.
The exact cause of an FND is unknown. They involve a problem with the part of your brain controlling your muscles and senses. Triggers for symptoms can't always be identified, but sometimes it occurs after a stressful event, emotional distress or physical trauma.
FNDs can affect anyone, at any time. However, FNDs are uncommon in children under 10 and affects more women than men. Research points to predisposing factors that may make some patients more prone to an FND, including having a:
There is no known way to prevent a functional neurological disorder.
It can be difficult to correctly diagnose an FND. Patients with an FND can have a wide range and combination of physical, sensory, emotional and cognitive symptoms. Symptoms can vary day-to-day and can happen continuously or sporadically. Some patients also may experience long periods of being symptom-free.
The most common symptoms of FNDs include:
FNDs have symptoms similar to other neurological disorders and it’s common for patients to have an FND and other conditions such as stroke, depression and fibromyalgia.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor right away. Early diagnosis and treatment are important to effective treatment and recovery.
Banner Health’s neuroscience team are experts in diagnosing and treating patients with FNDs. We use a multidisciplinary approach that includes medical and mental health professionals to accurately provide a FND diagnosis.
An FND is primarily diagnosed based on symptoms. Although the patient is experiencing symptoms, brain imaging tests (EEG, MRI, CT scan) won’t show any abnormalities or changes. For these reasons, it’s important to seek a diagnosis from a neurologist experienced in FNDs.
An FND requires an evaluation and diagnoses from a neurologist, including:
If left untreated, an FND can have a devastating impact on a patient’s quality of life. The severity of symptoms can be debilitating and affect a patient’s ability to work, socialize and care for themselves. However, with proper diagnosis and treatment, Banner Health doctors are able to help patients manage and improve their symptoms and live their lives to the fullest.
Treatment starts with your doctor giving you a clear explanation of your diagnosis. Understanding FNDs are relatively common conditions and that symptoms can improve over time helps to reduce anxiety.
Banner Health’s expert team builds each patient with an FND an individualized treatment plan, which may include:
Banner Health doctors take a multidisciplinary approach to your care, which may include a neurologist, psychiatrist, speech, physical and occupational therapists and others. It’s also important you have regular follow-up with your medical team to monitor your recovery and make changes to your treatment plan as needed.
Connecting with others with an FND can help with recovery. Learn more about FND support groups at Banner Health.