Visit previous version of website
FND Links Feedback Donate Language
  • English
Home / Symptoms / FND Symptoms / Functional Dystonia

Functional Dystonia

What is Functional Dystonia?

Patients with functional dystonia either have ‘curled fingers’ or a ‘clenched hand’.

The other common problem in functional dystonia is that the ankle turns in and may point down

These abnormal postures may be hard or even impossible for the patient to change which is why they are sometimes called ‘fixed dystonia’.

The video below shows how ‘fixed’ these postures can become.

This may be a temporary intermittent problem (a spasm) or may be more chronic (this is usually called fixed / functional dystonia).

What has gone wrong in functional dystonia?

Everyone has a ‘map’ of their body and their limbs in their brain.

In broad terms what seems to be wrong in functional dystonia is that this ‘map’ in the brain, for various reasons has , gone wrong. The brain thinks that the ‘curled’ hand or ‘twisted ankle’ position is normal even though you know that it is not.

It seems that physical injuries, weakness in the limb and immobility can all be things that can distort the map in the brain.

The challenge of treatment is to try to ‘retrain the brain’ so that it can learn what “normal map” of the limb should be.

Overlap with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

There is an overlap here with a condition called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). You can read about that on a separate page.

In CRPS patients develop pain in a limb that doesn’t go away or even gets worse long after the injury has healed. Functional dystonia is one of the complications of CRPS.

Pain is common in patients with functional dystonia. But you can have functional dystonia without pain as well.

How is the diagnosis made?

The diagnosis of functional dystonia should be made by a doctor who is familiar with the different causes of dystonia.

Functional dystonia often begins quite suddenly but may be gradual. It may follow on from one of the following situations

  1. A physical injury to the limb or pain in the limb. As described above Functional dystonia may occur as part of complex regional pain syndrome
  2. After a period of prolonged immobility, especially in association with functional limb weakness
  3. An underlying mild additional cause of dystonia that has become ‘amplified’ by functional dystonia

The development of a new onset dystonia in an adult that looks like the pictures above, particularly if it is associated with other functional neurological symptoms and especially if it came on relatively suddenly would all be strongly suggestive of functional dystonia

How does this differ from other forms of dystonia?

Dystonia is a neurological term for abnormal and persistent muscle contraction causing a change in posture.

There are many forms of dystonia including writers cramp, cervical dystonia (sometimes called torticollis) and generalised dystonia. Dystonia can also occur in a myriad of neurological diseases.

Some of these types of dystonia, such as Writer’s cramp, arent associated with brain disease so why arent they classified as functional disorders as well?

Perhaps the first thing to point out is that functional disorder are genuine and do involve the brain going wrong

But functional disorders are characterised by their potential for reversibility. So functional dystonia, even when apparently fixed can sometimes improve under hypnosis, or with physiotherapy, whereas these other forms of dystonia rarely respond to those kinds of treatment.

In adddition patients with Writer’s cramp don’t tend to have the other functional symptoms and disorders described on this site, whereas patients with functional dystonia typically do.

There is no denying though, that functional dystonia is a good example of how it’s difficult and perhaps even false to divide problems up between those where there is a ‘disease’ and those where there is not.

What is the treatment?

Have a look through the pages on treatment on this website

Do you have confidence in the diagnosis?
It is essential that you feel that you have the correct diagnosis. If you don’t it will be hard to put into practice the rehabilitation techniques suggested here.

If you dont feel that you have functional dystonia you need to look at what basis the diagnosis has been made. You should have some of the clinical features described above. If you do, why don’t you have confidence in the diagnosis you have been given?

You do not need to be stressed to have functional dystonia. In fact functional dystonia is often most noticeable when people are relaxed or not thinking about anything in particular. Perhaps you rejected the diagnosis because the doctor suggested it was “stress related”? – there may have been a misunderstanding if that was the case. We know that many patients with functional dystonia do have stress as a cause of their symptoms, but many don’t. So whether you have been stressed or not is not relevant to the diagnosis.

Specific physiotherapy techniques

We are still learning what specific techniques are most helpful for functional dystonia.

As a general principal, trying to move the affected part is really important, although if its fixed this may not be possible.

Some of the follwing may be helpful.

  1. Changing sitting and standing postures
  2. Desensitise the limb using techniques learned for complex regional pain syndrome
  3. Looking in a mirror to give your brain feedback that the limb is not in the right position. For example, some patients report that they feel as if the foot is straight even when its actually bent
  4. Using a mirror to ‘trick’ your brain into thinking that the abnormal foot or hand is normal. This is the same technique used in patients with Phantom Limb Pain and is also used in CRPS.
  5. Practising ‘imagining your foot or hand in a normal position again.

Other treatments

Look on the treatment pages to find out more about specific treatments that may be relevant to you.

home window repair ellicott city md window screen replacement portland oregon home window repair in muskegon window repair roseville replacement windows house how to replace a glass window andersen window replacement sashes custom window repair installing double hung replacement windows acre replacement windows rolfs replacement windows window repair memphis tn leer topper replacement rear window norco replacement windows roto garden window replacement glass window repair tomball tx does aaa cover window replacement fensa requirements replacement windows window casing installation peachtree window balance replacement window film installation los angeles replacement windows tips window repair raleigh viking window repair window repair burlington vt portable air conditioner window installation screen repair home depot how to repair window screens diy windows replacement new haven glass repair and replacement

relacor diet pills estrogen weight loss no carb weight loss weight loss nutritionist should i lose weight before building muscle keto diet and diabetics stair exercises for weight loss stress weight loss kids weight loss weight loss pills forum meal prep for keto diet high protein low carb recipes for weight loss diet pills blue and white speckled how do i avoid constipation on keto diet diet pills that curve appetite weight loss rsources endomorph keto diet dr brushing weight loss musclepharm diet pills how to lose weight faster on the hcg diet meltdown diet pills walmart weight loss pills amazon keto diet without cooking metabolife diet pills target weight loss pill pills to lose weight and gain muscle saffron pills to lose weight gnc weight loss reviews where to buy perfect keto hoodia diet pills reviews

in what states is cbd oil legal cbd oil reviews for cancer patients terry naturally cbd oil cbd oil fallbrook ca cbd oil total plant complex cannabis oil suppositories buy cbd oil for epilepsy proceds hemp into cbd oil cbd oil twitter hemp oil price current clinical trials of cbd oil near tx cbd oil for autism spectrum cbd oil no hc best cbd oil online store on market cbd oil at walgrens dosagefor cbd oil fir cancer mother cbd oil with michael strahan and sara episode on cbd oil harvard research on cbd oil is cbd oil good for the pancreas blind in one eye should i use cbd oil does cbd oil get old or go bad grade of cbd oil gronk isms cbd oil clearwater florida cbd oil will insurance pay for cbd oil where can i walk in and purchase cbd oil in california cbd oil muscle relaxant cbd oil sublingual prices lecithin cannabis coconut oil

male stimulants tumblr viagra viagra commercial girls cialis pill lilly cialis coupons erectile dysfunction agents maximum cialis dose hyper fx testosterone booster pills to make your penis bigger xomax phone number male enhancement pills increase libido in menopause best test pills natural male viagra cvs big penis pills nitroxtend male enhancement best of the best male enhancement pills how much l arginine for erectile dysfunction do testosterone pills accumulate following day best male hormone supplements viagra side effects vision do natural male enhancement pills work 12k male enhancement pills erectile dysfunction drugs australia extenze pills side effects prolonged erection pills herbs for better erections foods that increase male libido naturally male length enhancement 24 year old male low libido male perf side effects