FND – the disorder that mystifies the professionals

April is World FND awareness month, but until a few months ago I had never heard of FND.  So what exactly is it? Well, therein lies the problem…

There is little known or even understood about Functional Neurological Disorder (FND), but what is known is that FND is a problem with the functioning of the nervous system and how the brain and body send and receive signals. This causes a range of neurological symptoms such as seizures, weakness, paralysis and chronic pain.

Patients can experience symptoms such as weakness, sensory symptoms, and blackouts.  Put simply, the brain of a patient with FND functions incorrectly.

But all is not as bad as it seems as FND appears to finally be getting the attention it deserves and researchers around the world are trying to find answers which will lead to better treatment plans for patients.

What causes FND?

FND has multiple causes, not just one, and these causes may vary from patient to patient. Conditions or diseases such as physical injury, infectious illness, panic attack or migraine may trigger the first FND symptoms.  However, while these problems may clear up, the FND symptoms become stuck in a pattern in the nervous system – resulting in a genuine, disabling condition.

And it is not entirely clear whether one person or another is more at risk of developing FND but it is generally believed that some of these factors may increase the risk:

  • Adverse life events or significant stress or emotional trauma
  • Physical trauma such as a virus, migraine, accident
  • Having an illness or disease such as migraine
  • Having a neurological disease or disorder, such as a depression, anxiety disorder or certain personality disorders
  • FND impacts considerably more women than men; they account for between 60% and 75% of patients
  • You do not have to be stressed, depressed or anxious to develop functional symptoms
  • You do not have to have experienced an adverse childhood to develop functional symptoms

Symptoms of FND

The symptoms of FND can be varied and many patients diagnosed with FND may have a combination of these:

  • Bowel and bladder changes
  • Chronic pain
  • Cognitive changes
  • Gait and balance problems
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Involuntary movements
  • Paralysis and weakness
  • Functional seizures
  • Sensory changes
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Speech problems
  • Visual changes

FND regularly mis-diagnosed

Despite FND being quite common, it is the second most frequent reason for a neurology outpatient appointment and more prevalent than Multiple Sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease. But stigma means people wait years for diagnosis, leading to wasted, expensive medical visits, worsening symptoms and distress. Not many medical professionals have heard of it and so achieving the correct diagnosis can take longer than it should. FND has been mis-diagnosed as Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Epilepsy, Motor Neurone disease or even simply concussion.

What is the treatment for FND?

FND treatment is most effective when it includes a combination of different therapies and treatments tailored to the individual symptoms such as:

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or CBT helps those who suffer with Functional Seizures.

Physical/Physiotherapy specific to FND seems to help the most where the goal is to retrain the brain and not let atypical movement become the habitual way to move.

Alongside these, learning coping mechanisms such as grounding techniques and meditation can help symptoms by teaching the patient how to turn down over excited senses.


ITV presenter Lorraine Kelly (OBE), having seen her young neighbour go from being a fit and vibrant young person to becoming paralysed from the waist down and unable to speak after a bang to the head, decided to lend her voice to raising awareness of FND and is now patron of FND Hope UK.  Lorraine’s neighbour, through physical therapy, is slowly learning to speak and gain control of her limbs with the support of FND Hope UK.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above then an appointment should be made with your GP in the first instance.

If you would like any further information on FND then you may find the following websites useful:


Neurosymptoms by Professor Jon Stone, Consultant Neurologist.

All content on is provided for general information only, and should not be treated at all as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other health care professional. Silversurfers will not be responsible or liable for any diagnosis made by a user based on the content on and we are also not liable for the content of any external websites or links from or to Silversurfers to any other websites. Please always consult your own doctor if you’re in any way concerned about any aspect of your health.

Have you got a health question?

We've teamed up with AXA PPP healthcare to bring you articles, information and tips from their clinical teams on a wide range of health topics. And if you have a question of your own, their, "Ask the Expert" service allows you to ask the team of friendly, experienced nurses, pharmacists and midwives about any health topic and they'll get back to you with an answer as soon as they’re able.* So if you have something that’s been bothering you, whether it concerns you or someone close to you, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Click below to submit your query online.


* Nurses are available 24/7, 365 days a year. Midwives and pharmacists are available Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm; Saturday, 8am to 4pm; and Sunday, 8am to 12pm.
Actual response time will depend on the nature of your enquiry and availability of appropriately qualified experts but the team will always aim to get back to you within 24 hours.
Please note that our Expert Help services are there to offer health information and support. They do not diagnose or prescribe, and are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice given in the context of an individual consultation.


The following two tabs change content below.

Melina - Assistant Editor

Hi I'm Melina, a mother of 3 teenage children and with a particular interest in all things health related. I run a busy household and smallholding alongside my work with Silversurfers, which currently includes dogs, fish, hens, ducks and pigs!

Leave a Comment!

Not a member?

You need to be a member to interact with Silversurfers. Joining is free and simple to do. Click the button below to join today!

Click here if you have forgotten your password
1st Apr 2020
Thanks for voting!
Excellent article on FND, bringing awareness to so many. I recently met a lady in her 80's who had been misdiagnosed as having MS for many decades and now knows she has FND. Thank you for bringing awareness to this.

Community Terms & Conditions

Content standards

These content standards apply to any and all material which you contribute to our site (contributions), and to any interactive services associated with it.

You must comply with the spirit of the following standards as well as the letter. The standards apply to each part of any contribution as well as to its whole.

Contributions must:

be accurate (where they state facts); be genuinely held (where they state opinions); and comply with applicable law in the UK and in any country from which they are posted.

Contributions must not:

contain any material which is defamatory of any person; or contain any material which is obscene, offensive, hateful or inflammatory; or promote sexually explicit material; or promote violence; promote discrimination based on race, sex, religion, nationality, disability, sexual orientation or age; or infringe any copyright, database right or trade mark of any other person; or be likely to deceive any person; or be made in breach of any legal duty owed to a third party, such as a contractual duty or a duty of confidence; or promote any illegal activity; or be threatening, abuse or invade another’s privacy, or cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety; or be likely to harass, upset, embarrass, alarm or annoy any other person; or be used to impersonate any person, or to misrepresent your identity or affiliation with any person; or give the impression that they emanate from us, if this is not the case; or advocate, promote or assist any unlawful act such as (by way of example only) copyright infringement or computer misuse.

Nurturing a safe environment

Our Silversurfers community is designed to foster friendships, based on trust, honesty, integrity and loyalty and is underpinned by these values.

We don't tolerate swearing, and reserve the right to remove any posts which we feel may offend others... let's keep it friendly!