Neurology Functional Disorders (Сonversion Disorder) Symptoms and Trearment
Unstable political and economic situations, protracted conflicts, constant stress, colossal information pressure, or chronic fatigue deplete the nervous system. As a result, it can no longer work at total capacity. That leads to a functional neurological (or conversion) disorder.
What is a functional neurological disorder?
That is a nervous system disorder against the background of complete physical health. Doctors often use the term "neurocirculatory dystonia." This disorder affects the ability to walk, swallow, see or hear. Symptoms vary in severity and may come and go.
How common is Functional Neurological Disorder?
Functional Neurological Disorder (FND), also called conversion disorders, is relatively common today. About 20-25% of the population, including children, suffer from conversion disorder. In addition, increased emotionality in women has led to the fact that they suffer from functional neurological diseases more than men, almost twice.
Symptoms of NFD may appear suddenly after severe stress or emotional or physical trauma. Other causes may be brain disorders. However, in some people (30 cases per 200.000), the functional neurological disorder can develop without stress or depression.
Causes and risk factors of FND
Many studies have been conducted on the causes of conversion disorder. However, they could not be fully installed. A significant factor of FND is not the number of traumatic situations but their role for the patient. Some people have a functional neurological disorder due to a relatively minor problem. It all depends on the character of each person and their value system.
A significant role in the occurrence of FND in humans is assigned to their psychological and physiological characteristics. So, people who are very hypochondriacal and emotional are much more likely to suffer from this disorder. Other causes include hormonal changes in the body during various periods of a person's life (adolescence, menopause) and neurology disease that existed in the patient in childhood (enuresis or logoneurosis).
Risk factors of FND
Factors that may increase the risk of conversion disorder:
- diseases of neurology or illness, such as epilepsy, migraine, or damage to musculoskeletal function;
- mental health condition, dissociative disorder, or certain personality disorders;
- female gender (women have a higher risk of conversion disorder).
Symptoms of FND
The nervous system provides a full-fledged coordinated work of all human body systems. When it is depleted, failures begin to occur in one or another organ. As a result, a person suffers from unclear pain or discomfort in different body parts. Tests and studies do not find any reasons for the deterioration of well-being. No infections, viruses, or other pathologies in the body could lead to the symptoms that have arisen.
The functional neurological disorder symptoms usually manifest themselves in the disruption of many systems of the human body:
- Vegetative-vascular and central nervous systems: panic attacks, dizziness, headache, tremor, imbalance, muscle twitching, sleep disorders.
- Cardiovascular system: discomfort in the heart area, high or low blood pressure, cardiac arrhythmia, cardialgia, suffocation, and lack of air.
- Digestive system: loss of appetite, dry mouth, vomiting, nausea, heartburn.
- Genitourinary system: enuresis, decreased libido, frigidity, pain, and pain in the genital area.
- Skin: psoriasis, urticaria, atopic dermatitis.
For Functional Neurological Disorder, there is one common sign - asthenia. It is manifested by increased mental or physical fatigue. In addition, anxiety syndrome and various phobias are often observed.
Disorder of mnestic functions:
- memory impairment;
- reduced concentration and attention;
- inability to focus on anything.
Some symptoms of a Functional Neurological Disorder, especially if left untreated, can lead to poor quality of life. Sometimes the signs of FND are persistent, and people lose the ability to work and live their daily lives. Also, there are cases when the symptoms resemble signs of other neurological diseases, such as multiple sclerosis or Parkinson's disease.
Diagnosis of FND
There are no standard tests for FND. Diagnosis usually includes assessing existing symptoms and excluding any neurological or other diseases with similar symptoms. A typical diagnosis of Functional Neurological Disorder includes:
- Neurological examination. It can confirm the absence of neurological diseases or other medical disorders as the cause of symptoms. Further tests depend on the actual symptoms.
- Psychological examination. It is conducted as an interview with a patient to identify criteria for a psychoemotional disorder.
- Computed tomography is a technique of visualization of organs and tissues, which allows the identification of several pathologies, such as hydrocephalus, tumors, violation of the structure of brain tissues, and others.
- Magnetic resonance imaging is a highly accurate imaging method. The diagnostic value of MRI significantly increases with the use of contrast agents.
- Echoencephalography is a technique that displays ultrasound waves reflected from some brain regions. This study is used to diagnose hemorrhages and hydrocephalus, particularly in children.
- Electroencephalography – the study of the electrical activity of the brain.
- Positron emission tomography is a method of studying malignant tumors, which allows you to obtain valuable information for nervous system neoplasms, strokes, or epilepsy.
- Myelography - an X-ray examination of the spinal cord using a contrast agent.
- Cerebral angiography – radiopaque examination of arteries and veins.
- Laboratory tests of blood, cerebrospinal fluid, and other fluids and tissues are necessary for an accurate diagnosis.
It is also necessary to accurately examine the internal organs to exclude the presence of various diseases. Therefore, the patient should visit a cardiologist, urologist, gynecologist, or gastroenterologist.
If symptoms worsen the patient's quality of life, he will be diagnosed with a functional neurological disorder.
FND Treatment Types
Treating conversion disorder is based on removing the patient from the negative influence of the psychodramatic factor. To do this, it is necessary either to remove the negative situation (which is sometimes impossible to do) or to change a person's attitude to it so that he stops perceiving it as traumatic. When the signs of the functional neurological disorder are not severe and are not associated with serious neurological diseases, they can resolve even without treatment. But patients with severe or recurring symptoms and combined psychological conditions need effective therapy to treat neurological symptoms. That is why the central role in treating neurology diseases is assigned to psychotherapy. But to achieve a positive effect, FND treatment should be comprehensive and include psychotherapy sessions and taking the necessary medications.
Possible FND treatments may include:
- pharmacological treatment;
- physical therapy of the conversion disorder;
- transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS);
- lifestyle changes;
- occupational therapy;
- speech FND therapy;
Pharmacological treatment includes antidepressants, which may resolve some psychological symptoms of FND. In addition, antidepressants can also help manage the panic disorder.
Psychotherapy is mainly cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). During CBT, the patient with FND concentrates on his feelings, thoughts, and emotions, which can play a role in developing neurology symptoms. In addition, psychological treatment can help create methods for controlling FND symptoms.
Physical therapy can be helpful for people with weakened muscles and limb function, gait problems, or movement disorders. It can include exercise, electrical stimulation, and heat and cold therapy.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation uses a magnetic field that affects specific areas of the brain responsible for the neurological symptoms of people with FND.
Professional therapists help patients adapt to the routine at home and work. Thus, they get used to daily life.
Speech therapy provides training in articulation, speaking, and so on for people with speech disorders.
Lifestyle changes are an integral part of the treatment of functional neurological disorders. It includes regular sports, yoga, and a healthy and balanced diet with a sufficient sequence of micro- and macroelements and vitamins.
Countries where FND is successfully treated
Clinics for Conversion Disorder treatment
Neurological illnesses are shared all over the world. That's why many patients need professional treatment. However, for high-quality therapy of FND and other neurological diseases, clinics must be modernly equipped, and doctors are experts in their field.
European medical institutions are the best place to treat a functional neurological disorder. All of them are equipped with modern medical devices indispensable in diagnosing diseases. In addition, the medical approach to the treatment of FND is patient-oriented. In addition, a person receives high-quality medical care from experienced specialists in comfortable conditions.
We bring to your attention the top leading European neurological treatment clinics:
University Hospital of Frankfurt-am-Main of Goethe University
Even before the creation of the university, the neurological institute was founded based on the clinic. Since then, this medical institution has been the leading German neurology department with more than 100 highly qualified specialists and a wide range of medical services for conversion disorder.
Teknon Medical Center, Barcelona
The clinic is the leading Spanish hospital for treating conversion disorder. Therefore, the department of neurology has the latest technologies at its disposal. In addition, the medical group includes highly qualified specialists from various neurological fields: neurophysiologists, neurosurgeons, neuropsychologists, etc. Such an interdisciplinary team organizes a competent medical approach to treating FND.
Helios Hospital Berlin-Buch
The clinic is recognized as one of Germany's most modern and largest medical institutions. In addition, the department of neurology cooperates with various hospitals to conduct clinical research. Therefore, FND patients can benefit from new treatment methods for conversion disorder.
University Hospital Rechts der Isar of the Technical University, Munich
The hospital is the second-largest clinic in Munich and serves many patients yearly. In addition, the department of neurology has a neuroimaging center. Thus, the diagnosis of neurological diseases is carried out very accurately. Specialists carry out scientific work, including research on the FND.
University Hospital in Wurzburg
The clinic is one of the best medical institutions in Germany, especially for treating functional neurological disorder. The neurological field is successfully developing, and a wide range of diagnostic services is offered. In addition, patients with conversion disorder receive high-quality therapy (occupational therapy, speech therapy, etc.).
Organization of FND treatment: how can we help?
AiroMedical offers a wide range of services for the organization conversion disorder treatment in the best clinics in Europe:
- paperwork, selection of a suitable clinic;
- providing a "second medical opinion" consultation from doctors of leading medical centers;
- organization of an online doctor's consultation;
- interpretation of the results of MRI, CT, and other studies.
- trip management.
In our work, we rely on medical documents: we have doctors who analyze the client's case and contact leading neurologists. Then, we make an individual offer for each of them from several clinics ready to accept the patient.
If you or your loved ones need to arrange treatment for a functional neurological disorder in the best European clinics, please, contact the doctors of our company for an initial consultation. They will answer all questions about the possibility of receiving urgent effective medical care.
- National Library of Medicine: Functional Neurological Disorder
- MedicalNewsToday: All about Functional Neurological Disorder
- Nord Rare Disease Database: Conversion Disorder
- National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke: Functional Neurological Disorder
- NHS: Functional Neurological Symptoms