Functional neurological disorder is a conversion disorder. This type of complex disorder is often thought to be linked with psychological symptoms, serious stress, or mental distress. With functional neurological disorder (FND), patients have physical neurological symptoms but without the clear structural problems to explain it. Doctors are often confused and perplexed about what is going on or how to diagnose patients.
Patients with FND may experience things like hearing problems, trouble concentrating, swallowing problems, fatigue, impaired movement, loss of balance, numbness, dizziness, tremors, twitches, vision problems, and other symptoms. Even tests like MRIs show no causes behind these neurological symptoms and FND symptoms can last for days and up to years.
Experts decided to track 100 patients with FND in the largest study of its kind. They wanted to see what type of realistic prognosis doctors should provide to patients. The Universities of Edinburgh and Groningen in the Netherlands published this study in the journal Brain.
In their study, they followed the patients for 14 years and they found that FND can be as disabling as multiple sclerosis. Patients were able to complete questionnaires and answered questions such as their physical and mental symptoms as well as their perceived quality of life and how they view their illnesses.
The results showed that patients still have high levels of disability and emotional stress even 14 years later. They often has persistent and sometimes disabling symptoms. In fact, 4 out of 5 people with FND have lasting physical problems.
Many doctors still dismiss symptoms related FND; some are convinced that patients are imaging it or faking their condition because there are no structural reasons for the symptoms they are experiencing.
The hope is that research like this can contribute and encourage more research and better treatments for people with FND. Slowly, attitudes about FND are changing and this study shows that neurologists need to stay involved with long-term management for patients with FND.
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