Opinion: A role for placebo therapy in psychogenic movement disorders.

Center for Ethics, Neuroethics Program, Emory University, 1531 Dickey Drive, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA. .
Nature Reviews Neurology (Impact Factor: 14.1). 04/2013; DOI: 10.1038/nrneurol.2013.65
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Psychogenic movement disorders (PMDs) mimic known movement disorders but are not attributed to an underlying neurological pathology and are generally thought to have a psychological origin. Owing to the lack of a clear pathology, patients often experience multiple referrals, frequent office visits, and numerous-often fruitless-technically sophisticated tests and interventions. No standard of care exists for PMDs, and affected patients can experience debilitating symptoms for a lifetime. Some physicians advocate the use of placebo treatment for patients with PMDs, and placebo therapy can have beneficial neurophysiological effects. Innovative research will be necessary to develop effective therapeutics for psychogenic disorders and to make recommendations for future clinician training and health care policy. This Perspectives article aims to trigger international dialogue focusing on the diagnosis and treatment of patients with PMDs, and to reframe and deepen discussion of placebo prescribing for PMDs and beyond.

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    ABSTRACT: Psychogenic or functional movement disorders (PMDs) pose a challenge in clinical diagnosis. There are several clues, including sudden onset, incongruous symptoms, distractibility, suggestibility, entrainment of symptoms, and lack of response to otherwise effective pharmacological therapies, that help identify the most common psychogenic movements such as tremor, dystonia, and myoclonus. In this manuscript, we review the frequency, distinct clinical features, functional imaging, and neurophysiological tests that can help in the diagnosis of uncommon presentations of PMDs, such as psychogenic parkinsonism, tics, and chorea; facial, palatal, and ocular movements are also reviewed. In addition, we discuss PMDs at the extremes of age and mass psychogenic illness. Psychogenic parkinsonism (PP) is observed in less than 10% of the case series about PMDs, with a female-male ratio of roughly 1:1. Lack of amplitude decrement in repetitive movements and of cogwheel rigidity help to differentiate PP from true parkinsonism. Dopamine transporter imaging with photon emission tomography can also help in the diagnostic process. Psychogenic movements resembling tics are reported in about 5% of PMD patients. Lack of transient suppressibility of abnormal movements helps to differentiate them from organic tics. Psychogenic facial movements can present with hemifacial spasm, blepharospasm, and other movements. Some patients with essential palatal tremor have been shown to be psychogenic. Convergence ocular spasm has demonstrated a high specificity for psychogenic movements. PMDs can also present in the context of mass psychogenic illness or at the extremes of age. Clinical features and ancillary studies are helpful in the diagnosis of patients with uncommon presentations of psychogenic movement disorders.
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    ABSTRACT: Background and purpose Functional tics, also called psychogenic tics or pseudo-tics, are difficult to diagnose because of the lack of diagnostic criteria and their clinical similarities to organic tics. The aim of the present study was to report a case series of patients with documented functional tics and to describe their clinical characteristics, risk factors and psychiatric comorbidity. Also clinical tips are suggested which might help the differential diagnosis in clinical practice. Methods and results Eleven patients (mean age at onset 37.2, SD 13.5; three females) were included with a documented or clinically established diagnosis of functional tics, according to consultant neurologists who have specific expertise in functional movement disorders or in tic disorders. Adult onset, absent family history of tics, inability to suppress the movements, lack of premonitory sensations, absence of pali-, echo- and copro-phenomena, presence of blocking tics, the lack of the typical rostrocaudal tic distribution and the coexistence of other functional movement disorders were common in our patients. Conclusions Our data suggest that functional tics can be differentiated from organic tics on clinical grounds, although it is also accepted that this distinction can be difficult in certain cases. Clinical clues from history and examination described here might help to identify patients with functional tics.
    European Journal of Neurology 12/2014; 22(3). DOI:10.1111/ene.12609 · 3.85 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: From the very first descriptions of dystonia, there has been a lack of agreement on the differentiation of organic from functional (psychogenic) dystonia. This lack of agreement has had a significant effect on patients over the years, most particularly in the lack of access to appropriate management, whether for those with organic dystonia diagnosed as having a functional cause or vice versa. However, clinico-genetic advances have led to greater certainty about the phenomenology of organic dystonia and therefore recognition of atypical forms. The diagnosis of functional dystonia rests on recognition of its phenomenology and should not be, as far as possible, a diagnosis of exclusion. Here, we present an overview of the phenomenology of functional dystonia, concentrating on the three main phenotypic presentations: functional cranial dystonia; functional fixed dystonia; and functional paroxysmal dystonia. We hope that this review of phenomenology will aid in the positive diagnosis of functional dystonia and, through this, will lead to more rapid access to appropriate management.
    04/2014; 1(1). DOI:10.1002/mdc3.12013