Gastrointestinal (GI) Functional and Motility Disorders
How functional and motility disorders are defined
A functional disorder or disease occurs when the main abnormality is the way the body works. In the doctor’s office, no structural or biochemical cause is seen.
Gastrointestinal motility is defined by the movements of the digestive system, and the transit of the contents within it.
Functional GI and motility disorders generally cannot be diagnosed in a traditional way. No inflammatory, infectious, or structural abnormality can be seen by commonly used examination, x-ray, or laboratory test.
Problems occur when nerves or muscles in any portion of the digestive tract do not function in a coordinated fashion, or when the sensitivity of the nerves of the intestines or the way in which the brain controls some of these functions is impaired.
Symptoms commonly include:
- abdominal distension
These disorders strike often
Functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorders affect millions of people of all ages – men, women, and children. They are the most commonly presented GI illnesses seen by doctors in primary care or gastroenterology.
The disorders are costly
The social and economic costs of gastrointestinal disorders are enormous. The symptoms of these disorders can cause discomfort, ranging from inconvenience to deep personal distress. For those with severe symptoms the disorders can be debilitating, leaving them unable to fully participate in life and work.
Misunderstanding is risky
Much remains unknown about these disorders. This often leads to confusion and misunderstanding among patients and physicians alike. Lack of understanding can lead to misdiagnosis. It can lead to misguided treatment.
We need research
There is a pressing need to support more research. Gastrointestinal disorder research remains severely underfunded. Less than 1% of digestive disease research funding, through the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is allocated for functional disorders.