What Are Functional Neurological Disorders
The medical world has made some great advances in the last thirty years or so. But in recent times it has become apparent that there are a lot of symptoms out there that doctors just can’t put their finger on.
When someone has problems or symptoms that don’t fit into a specific diagnosis or can’t be shown on a blood test or scan, doctors often use the term ‘functional’. Some patients don’t like this term because it can sound like they’re being dismissed however, other patients find it helpful to be given some sort of label. Patients who have been told they have functional disorders have begun to form groups to help understand their problems: this is very helpful as they can compare symptoms and help each other become aware of treatments.
Common symptoms that are experienced by people with a functional neurological disorder include:
- Tingling in the hands or feet.
- A tremor in one or both arms.
- Sudden fainting or loss of consciousness.
- An inability to move an arm or a leg properly, or a heavy feeling down one side of the body.
- Problems concentrating.
The difficulty is many of these symptoms are present in other neurological conditions like Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. That is why a doctor will usually rule out these conditions before considering a functional neurological disorder.
Possible Side Effects From The Program
These programs are well worth participating in.
However, they do require a lot of commitment and focus from you.
For some people, participating in the program will require a big push, both mentally and physically, and so can increase or shift their symptoms. That doesnt mean they shouldnt participate, but it is something to be aware of.
If you are consistently fatigued or have very severe symptoms, be sure to discuss these concerns with the programs. Its possible that they may have some suggestions for ways to build up your stamina prior to the start so you can get more out of it when you participate.
Also, because FND symptoms can shift over time or under stress, its possible that you may develop new symptoms or have old symptoms flare back up while in the program.
I know that when I attended, I had my bladder issues flare back up, and I ended up developing new sensory symptoms.
Ever since I participated in the program, Ive had numbness in my left leg on the outside of the calf area. I also had small sections of my back feel tingly near the end of the program.
I want to be totally clear about this: even with the new symptoms, it was completely worth doing.
I had a huge improvement in terms of control over my movement symptoms, and the symptom shifts and increases I experienced were different but milder than my previous symptoms.
Types Of Functional Neurological Disorders
- Glossopharyngeal neuralgia: A disorder causing severe pain in the tongue, throat, larynx, ears and tonsils.
- Trigeminal neuralgia: A painful condition affecting the trigeminal nerve, causing burning or shocking facial pain to the lips, eyes, nose, scalp, forehead and jaw. Each episode can last a few seconds to a few minutes, and can happen repeatedly for up to two hours.
- Hemifacial spasm: A disorder causing muscles on one side of your face to spasm. It usually starts with twitching of one eyelid and then spreads to the lower face. Eventually, the eye is forced closed and the mouth may be pulled to one side.
- Essential tremor: A nervous system disorder that causes involuntary shaking, often in your hands and affecting small tasks like tying your shoe. It differs from Parkinsons disease as essential tremor occurs without other neurological symptoms.
- Parkinsonian: Most patients with Parkinsons disease experience tremors. Parkinsons tremors are rhythmic , tend to start on one side of your body and happen when your muscles are still.
Risk Factors For Functional Neurological Symptom Disorder
Following factors can increase the risk of functional neurological symptom disorder:
- Emotional trauma or severe stress in recent past is a risk factor for functional neurological symptom disorder.
- Risk of functional neurological symptom disorder is higher in women.
- Mental illness or personality disorders increases the risk.
- History of functional neurological symptom disorder in family.
- Any incident of sexual or physical abuse.
What Kind Of Documentation Does The Ssa Need To Approve A Disability Claim
The SSA will want to see all your medical and mental health records pertaining to your neurological disorder and its complications. The Blue Book stipulates: We need both medical and non-medical evidence to assess the effects of your neurological disorder.
Some of the evidence the SSA will need include:
- Medical history
- Examination findings
- Relevant laboratory tests
- Results of imaging tests such as x-rays and computerized tomography , magnetic resonance imaging , and electroencephalography scans
- Descriptions of any prescribed treatment and your response to it
- Non-medical evidence such as your statement or statements from others about the impairments, the restrictions it causes, and how it affects daily activities and your effort to work
Lack of medical evidence is one of the primary reasons the SSA denies disability claims. It is essential to be well-prepared with evidence that supports the claim or risk facing a denial.
We help collect whatever documentation might be necessary to prove the claim, or to help appeal the claim if the SSA initially denies it. If the SSA has denied your claim, call us immediately so we can get started filing your appeal.
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What Are The Other Criteria For Disability Benefits
In addition to having a neurological disorder that either meets the listing requirements or that is so severe that it greatly limits your ability to earn a living, there are several other criteria you must meet to obtain disability benefits:
- The impairment must have lasted or be expected to last a year or longer or result in death.
- You are so impaired that you cannot engage in what the SSA calls substantial gainful activity, which means you are incapable of earning more than $1,130/month.
- You meet the appropriate financial or work history requirements.
Social Security Disability For A Neurological Disorder
Tens of millions of people suffer from some type of neurological disorder globally, reports the World Health Organization. Alzheimers, Parkinsons, stroke, and epilepsy are some of the most common types of conditions people suffer from. Many neurological disorders affect more than the brain they can involve the entire central and peripheral nervous systems.
The symptoms and signs of neurological disorders vary in type and severity, but many can cause marked limitations, such as:
- Paralysis and muscle weakness
- Involuntary movements
- Breathing problems
The Social Security Administration considers many severe neurological disorders disabling. If you or your loved one has a serious neurological issue, you might be able to collect monthly Social Security disability benefits. For more information about getting Social Security disability for a neurological disorder in North Carolina, call Lunn and Forro, PLLC at for a free consultation.
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How Does Fnd Happen
Symptoms of FND happen because of changes in the way the brain and other parts of the nervous system handle data and information. This occurs without damage in the visible or detectable structure of the nervous system. As it is known to many, the Central Nervous System form an information processing system. It can incur problems in information processing mechanisms as much as it can incur problems in its hardware. Problems in the way the Central Nervous System handles information is what lead to the symptoms of FND. Problems in the hardware is what leads to another group of illnesses, known as Structural Neurological Disorder. Many people find the “hardware-software” analogy to give a good explanation of this condition. In this analogy, Functional Neurological Disorder results from software problems within the brains information processing system. While this analogy is imperfect, it can still help us understand FND.
What Is Functional Neurological Symptom Disorder
Functional neurological symptom disorder is a medical condition where psychological stress leads to and manifests as some sort of physical problem. The illness of functional neurological symptom disorder starts when you go through a trauma your emotional or mental crisis are converted into some sort of physical problem. For example, suppose if someone falls from a horse their legs gets paralyzed even when there was no physical injury it can be a case of functional neurological symptom disorder. The symptoms of functional neurological symptom disorder appears without any physical cause and patients do not have any control over them.
Functional neurological symptom disorder is also called as Conversion Disorder. Functional neurological symptom disorder usually affects your sense organs or movements such as ability to hear, see or walk. The severity of symptoms varies from person to person and can come and go or remain steady. Immediate attention with proper management can ease out the situation. Adults and teens usually show severe symptoms as compared to young children.
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Dissociation Vs Motor Symptom Groups
Given that our interest was primarily in the comparison with those who had dissociation or motor symptoms, and that the cell sizes for somatoform and mixed groups were too small for statistical comparisons, the following results include only the contrasts between these two groups.
Table 1 shows the underlying psychological factors in the groups with primary dissociation vs. motor symptoms. Patients with dissociation as their primary symptom were significantly more likely to have current severe psychological diagnoses compared to those with primary motor symptoms 2 = 12.249 p = 0.002. There was no significant difference regarding current anxiety in patients with primary motor symptoms or dissociation , p = 0.266 or overall trauma history . The dissociation group was significantly more likely to have a childhood trauma history than the primary motor group , 2 = 6.911, p = 0.010. Compared with the motor symptom group the dissociation group had significantly more patients with other neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions , 2 = 10.095, p = 0.002. Those that did not have an identifiable psychological factor contributing to their dissociation and motor symptoms, did not differ on whether they had another neurological condition, p = 0.109. No clear contributing psychological factors were identified for 12.9% of those with dissociation and 20% of those with motor symptoms. This difference was not significant, p = 0.158.
Prevention Of Functional Neurological Symptom Disorder
Functional neurological symptom disorder results from some sort of trauma or stressful event. Thus activities which can relieve you from stress such as yoga and meditation can help in easing out symptoms of functional neurological symptom disorder. The best way to stay away from any chances of functional neurological symptom disorder is to ensure good living conditions, high quality of life and stability in life.
If you are having any other medical conditions then you need to follow proper treatment procedures. These treatment procedures can include medications and counseling.
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How Common Are Functional Neurological Disorders
Doctors from almost every specialty will be familiar with patients whose symptoms do not fit a specific diagnosis or a ‘box’. It is hard to quantify exactly how many people in society experience these symptoms, because many may not consult a doctor.
However it is known that functional neurological disorders represent the second most common reason for patients to see a neurologist, second only to headaches.
What is known for certain is that the symptoms are debilitating: people with functional neurological disorders rate their condition as just as devastating as people with Parkinson’s disease, for example. And most family doctors, or GPs, will know how these problems can often severely affect a person’s ability to live a normal life.
Applying For Disability Benefits For A Neurological Condition
You can apply for Social Security disability either at your local SSA office, by calling the SSA at 800-772-1213, or online at www.ssa.gov . Once your application is complete, it will be sent to a claims examiner, who will obtain copies of your medical records from your doctors and other healthcare providers. They may also send you reports to complete, ask you to go to a medical exam or even interview your family members and friends. Once your file is complete, the claims examiner will, along with a medical expert, make a determination on your eligibility for disability benefits. Some Social Security applicants receive a decision 4-5 months after applying, but sometimes, it takes much longer.
|Take our disability quiz to help you determine whether you qualify for benefits.|
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What Are The Requirements For Getting Disability Benefits For Somatic Symptom Disorder
Whether you can get disability benefits from Social Security depends on whether Social Security accepts that you have a somatic symptom disorder and the severity of your condition. The agency will assess whether you meet the official disability listing for somatic symptom or a related disorder or whether your functional capacity is so low that you can’t work.
Disorders Of The Central Nervous System
Multiple sclerosis is a chronic, typically progressive disease involving damage to the sheaths of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, whose symptoms may include numbness, impairment of speech and of muscular coordination, blurred vision, and severe fatigue.
A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is interrupted or severely reduced, depriving brain tissue of oxygen and nutrients. Within minutes, brain cells begin to die. Residual problems may include serious problems communicating, walking, or using ones hands due to the stroke.
Epilepsy and Seizure Disorders
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder marked by sudden recurrent episodes of sensory disturbance, loss of consciousness, or convulsions, associated with abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Whether one will receive LTD benefits for epilepsy depends on the types of seizures, their frequency, and how the seizures disrupt the claimants daily activities. It is also possible to receive benefits for non-epileptic seizures.
Cerebral Palsy is a condition marked by impaired muscle coordination and/or other disabilities, typically caused by damage to the brain before or at birth. Long Term Disability benefits may be available to those whose cerebral palsy causes problems with walking, talking, speaking, thinking, seeing, hearing, and more.
Migraine Headache Disorder
Transient Ischemic Attacks
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What Are The Treatments For Functional Neurological Disorders
Most people with functional neurological disorders find that medications do not help. It is tempting to take medications and, indeed, it is tempting for doctors to prescribe them, but each medicine carries its own set of side-effects.
Treatments generally consist of managing the symptoms and finding a way of living with them and understanding them. Physiotherapy has been shown to be helpful for the more ‘movement’ side of functional neurological disorders, like weakness or tremors. For the more ‘sensory’ type of symptoms like pain and seizures, psychotherapy and cognitive behavioural therapy can help.
In general, doctors who work in the field and patient support groups do not recommend medications for the symptoms of functional neurological disorders. An example is painkillers: many patients end up on huge quantities of pain relief which hardly ever helps each painkiller has side-effects too and is often addictive.
Unfortunately, because conventional doctors often can’t help a great deal, there are a lot of questionable practitioners with dubious qualifications out there. They often promise great cures, at vast expense. Vulnerable patients can then end up spending huge sums of money on an unattainable goal. Please be careful: try to find a reputable doctor who works in the field in a state-funded system or who is covered by your insurance.
Medical Evidence To Prove You Cant Work
When you are submitting a claim for disability benefits the medical documentation that you submit will have a big impact on whether or not your claim is approved.
Some of the most common types of medical documentation that you should submit are a doctors diagnosis of your condition, test results, and MRI scans or X-rays.
When you have a spinal condition that makes it impossible to work you should also include documentation of MRI and CT scans that show the extent of the spinal cord damage. Only severe spinal cord injuries can qualify for disability benefits so its important to show evidence that your spinal cord injury is severe.
The Social Security Administrations Blue Book contains more detailed information about how to qualify for disability benefits with a neurological disorder.
The Blue Book is the official SSA listing of all the conditions that make someone eligible for disability benefits and the requirements that must be met for each condition. It is available online and searchable.
You can find your specific disorder and see exactly what evidence you will need to submit in order to qualify for disability benefits.
For example, if you are submitting a claim for disability benefits because you have Parkinsons the Blue Book states that you must submit medical evidence showing that you have these two symptoms of Parkinsons:
- bradykinesia, or tremor in two extremities causing ongoing problems with movement gait, or ability to stand.
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