Insight Functional Neurology – Are you experiencing recurring migraines or headaches? Have you wondered why you are feeling dizzy or off balance lately? Is pain or numbness affecting your daily activities and quality of life? If so, you may benefit from functional neurology. As many as 100 million Americans are currently living with a neurological disorder. Defined as an abnormality that affects the brain and nerves throughout the body and spinal cord, a neurological disorder impacts the body’s nervous system from functioning optimally and can lead to serious complications that are difficult to diagnose and treat. Although a neurological disorder can be managed with medications or surgery, the body is very complex and traditional methods do not always address the root cause of an issue. For patients still struggling with chronic pain and complications, a cutting-edge discipline called functional neurology is changing the way healthcare professionals approach a wide range of neurological conditions. The following is an introduction to functional neurology, including answers to ‘how effective is functional neurology in treating common health conditions’ and what you can expect during a functional neurology exam.
How Effective is Functional Neurology and Can It Help Me?
Functional neurology is a highly effective evidence-based approach used to treat a wide range of neurological disorders that are difficult to diagnose or may not respond well to medications or surgeries. Patients experiencing complications from brain injuries, degenerative disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, movement disorders, vestibular challenges (e.g. balance or dizziness), and other neurological issues of unknown origin have all benefited from functional neurology.
What is Functional Neurology?
In the past, there has been varied success in determining the underlying causes and treatments for many neurological conditions. Functional neurology addresses this by focusing on the assessment, diagnosis, and rehabilitation of the body’s nervous system. In simple terms, it is the process of retraining the brain to help the body thrive. The brain is the central hub of our nervous system and regulates every function in the body. In turn, the body sends responses back to the brain to coordinate how the body functions. When any line of communication between the brain and body is interrupted or breaks down, our health can be negatively impacted in many ways, making it difficult to properly diagnose and treat a neurological disorder.
This ability to retrain the brain or nervous system through physical, emotional, and environmental stimuli is known as neuroplasticity. Physicians specializing in functional neurology use this principle to activate pathways in the brain and manipulate cells and connections to specific areas of the nervous system. Not only does this build new connections, neurons, and blood vessels to alleviate symptoms, it also produces long-lasting results by changing the structure and function of the brain. Additionally, it gives physicians the tools to monitor small changes in the nervous system so they can be addressed before further complications develop.
What Health Conditions Can Be Treated With Functional Neurology?
Functional neurology is an effective treatment method for most neurological conditions. However, it is important to remember that this is not a cure for neurological dysfunctions or diseases. Rather, functional neurology uses neuroscience and analysis from your body to enhance how the nervous system functions and improve your quality of life. If you are experiencing any of the following conditions and have not had success with other treatments, functional neurology may be right for you:
- Alzheimer’s symptoms
- Arm or shoulder pain
- Balance problems
- Brain injury (e.g. TBI, post-stroke)
- Bulging or herniated discs
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Childhood development disorders (e.g. ADHD, autism)
- Foot pain
- Hip or knee pain
- Low back pain or sciatica
- Low immunity
- Multiple sclerosis
- Neck pain
- Restless leg syndrome
- Spinal stenosis
What Does a Functional Neurology Exam Look Like?
From pinpointing what is causing a failure in the nervous system and determining the best treatment to assessing your overall health and using this information to address the problem correctly, there are a number of factors that go into a functional neurology exam. Although the exam is very thorough, it is non-invasive and should not cause any discomfort.
The exam begins with an assessment of your vital signs, including blood pressure, heart rate, oxygenation, and temperature to identify possible underlying conditions. Your physician will then thoroughly review your medical history with you to assess the possibility of a neurological disorder. Next, a series of detailed diagnostic tests will be performed to measure neurological endurance and identify which parts of the brain and nervous system are impacted by dysfunction. At the conclusion of the exam, your physician will review the results, may request additional laboratory tests, and discuss next steps in developing a customized plan to treat your condition.
During the treatment process, functional neurology patients can expect a combination of brain-based rehabilitation exercises, chiropractic manipulation, rehabilitative modalities such as electrical stimulation, and lifestyle changes (e.g. diet and exercise) that promote neuroplasticity, brain function, and well-being.
How Effective Is Functional Neurology Treatment Sessions?
The brain is capable of making significant adaptive changes to stimuli. This is how we develop new skills throughout our lives, evolve, and become more efficient. Functional neurology uses a combination of neuroscience and rehabilitation to assist the brain in responding to new sensory, motor, and cognitive experiences. With an individualized treatment program as a foundation, research shows that brain and nervous system function can be improved in ways that were once considered impossible through functional neurology.
Modern medicine has revolutionized the ways we diagnose and treat diseases and injuries. These advancements have been highly effective for most patients, but they don’t always get to the bottom of solving chronic pain and improving quality of life. Fortunately, promising non-invasive alternatives like functional neurology are changing the way we think about managing chronic pain and other conditions caused by neurological dysfunction. Insight specializes in treating a wide range of conditions with functional neurology. If you think you may be a good candidate, contact us today to learn more and schedule an appointment.