INTRODUCTION: Functional motor disorders (FMDs) are usually categorized according to the predominant phenomenology; however, it is unclear whether this phenotypic classification mirrors the underlying pathophysiologic mechanisms.
OBJECTIVE: To compare the characteristics of patients with different FMDs phenotypes and without co-morbid neurological disorders, aiming to answer the question of whether they represent different expressions of the same disorder or reflect distinct entities.
METHODS: Consecutive outpatients with a clinically definite diagnosis of FMDs were included in the Italian registry of functional motor disorders (IRFMD), a multicenter data collection platform gathering several clinical and demographic variables. To the aim of the current work, data of patients with isolated FMDs were extracted.
RESULTS: A total of 176 patients were included: 58 with weakness, 40 with tremor, 38 with dystonia, 23 with jerks/facial FMDs, and 17 with gait disorders. Patients with tremor and gait disorders were older than the others. Patients with functional weakness had more commonly an acute onset (87.9%) than patients with tremor and gait disorders, a shorter time lag from symptoms onset and FMDs diagnosis (2.9 ± 3.5 years) than patients with dystonia, and had more frequently associated functional sensory symptoms (51.7%) than patients with tremor, dystonia and gait disorders. Patients with dystonia complained more often of associated pain (47.4%) than patients with tremor. No other differences were noted between groups in terms of other variables including associated functional neurological symptoms, psychiatric comorbidities, and predisposing or precipitating factors.
CONCLUSIONS: Our data support the evidence of a large overlap between FMD phenotypes.