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Functional Neurological Disorder (FND) : a patient's guide

including Functional/Dissociative (non-epileptic) Seizures,  Functional Movement Disorder and other functional symptoms



Pain is a very common symptom in patients with functional neurological symptoms.  This website is not designed to discuss pain in a lot of detail. Nonetheless it is important to recognise that if you do have chronic pain as part of your illness (and have something like functional weakness for example), the two things are probably related.


Most people with chronic pain have an MRI scan that just shows normal age related changes and no clear structural cause of their symptoms


Chronic pain can also be seen as a problem to do with the functioning of the nervous system which is complex and takes time to understand


Vicious Circles of Pain -

taken from the ARC booklet on Back Pain

Pain Toolkit

Understanding chronic pain in 5 minutes


This is a really brilliant video from Youtube to introduce important ideas in chronic pain.

If it doesnt work click here


It was made by GP Access and the Hunter Integrated Pain Service, New South Wales, Australia


You can also read a transcript of the video here, and see other language and subtitled versions here

There are foreign language versions including Arabic, Portugese, Italian, Hebrew, Norwegian, Spanish , Chinese, Danish, French

Tame the Beast - from This is another great video from Lorimer Moseley - a pain researcher and clinician in Australia.

It aims to explain how chronic (long lasting) pain is different to acute (short lived) pain






Understanding vicious cycles of pain


Another thing that management of chronic pain has in common with the management of some functional symptoms is the way in which vicious cycles can develop making the problem worse. For example, if you fall down and hurt your back, you may find for a day or two that its difficult to move because your back is sore. After that time though, moving around slowly increasing your mobility may be the best thing to do. It will be sore, but the more you do it, the less sore it will be


What sometimes goes wrong, especially after a minor injury, is that people worry that the pain they are experiencing in their back is a sign of something seriously damaged or ‘torn’. Understandably, with this in mind, they may be reluctant to move and may interpret pain as evidence that there is damage and that they should move as little as possible. Eventually however, this approach leads to more and more immobility and more and more pain. The figure opposite illustrates this



Where to get help for Pain


If your main problem is pain you may get further help from a Pain Clinic or a Pain Management Programme which can spend much longer helping you understand your pain better and learn to adapt to it better.



The "Pain Toolkit"


You may like to have a look at 'The Pain Toolkit', a booklet by Pete Moore, who has persistent pain himself and Dr Frances Cole, a GP and Pain Rehabilitation Specialist in Yorkshire UK.


The booklet and website describes 12 "tools" important in learning to manage and overcome chronic pain



Internet Resources for Patients with Pain



British Pain Society                                              

Pain Association Scotland                                    

Pain Concern                                                       

Pain Relief Foundation                                         

Pelvic Pain Support Network                                

Fibromyalgia Assocation UK                                




Internet Resources for Health Professionals related to Chronic Pain

If you want to see an evidence based pathway designed for doctors assessing and treating chronic pain look here


British Pain Society Map of Medicine        







Click here for a Fibromyalgia Information booklet


Locations of Pain


The commonest types of pain in people with functional neurological symptoms are:


1.Back Pain – usually felt in the low back spreading to either side


2.Neck Pain – often persistent and worse with movement


3.Widespread muscle and joint pain – this is sometimes called ‘fibromyalgia’, especially when it presents in combination with fatigue and unrefreshing sleep.  


4.Complex Regional Pain – This is when a limb becomes painful and difficult to use, usually after a minor injury. The limb may sometimes be swollen or change colour at times. Weakness is often seen in the affected limb which is not entirely due to pain and has identical clinical features to functional weakness. Likewise functional sensory symptoms and functional  movement disorders can be seen in complex regional pain.


Read more about this problem on this website.


There is useful information on most of  these types of pain from the Arthritis and Rheumatism Council. These links also explain exercises that can be useful for some kinds of pain



Neck - Information from Arthritis Research UK or NHS choices


Back - Information from Arthritis Research UK or NHS choices


Fibromyalgia -Fibromyalgia at NHS Choices or

Information Booklet from Arthritis Research Council (1.2Mb Pdf download)


The film below is a great short film about women with fibromyalgia from the BBC in the UK.

My only gripes.. it can be reversible and I dont agree that its unexplained. We have learnt a lot about how fibromyalgia works in recent years.

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