Study: Functional Medicine Improves Outcomes in Inflammatory Arthritis

older adults stretching

Evidence for the effectiveness of functional medicine is beginning to accumulate, despite the inherent challenges in studying an individualized, multimodal approach to treatment in a controlled trial. Following on the heels of a 2019 study demonstrating global improvements in patient-reported, health-related quality-of-life outcomes in patients treated with functional medicine,1 a new retrospective analysis at Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine finds that inflammatory arthritis patients treated with functional medicine showed improvement in all primary outcomes compared to standard of care alone.2

Patients with either rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or psoriatic arthritis (PsA) received either standard of care alone or standard of care plus adjunctive treatment with a 12-week functional medicine program. Those who received functional medicine care showed improved Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) scores on physical and mental health as well as pain compared to the standard of care alone. These results validate the use of the functional medicine approach to improve global patient-reported outcomes—which are critical measures of well-being and quality of life—in RA and PsA patients.

These findings provide direct evidence that at the very least, functional medicine can play an important role as an adjunctive therapy to address a patient’s physical and mental health, as well as pain, especially in those who do not respond to standard of care alone. Research is ongoing at the Center for Functional Medicine to demonstrate the effectiveness of the functional medicine approach and build the evidence base for its practice.

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  1. Beidelschies M, Alejandro-Rodriguez M, Ji X, Lapin B, Hanaway P, Rothberg MB. Association of the Functional Medicine Model of Care With Patient-Reported Health-Related Quality-of-Life Outcomes. JAMA Netw Open. 2019 Oct 2;2(10):e1914017.
  2. Droz N, Hanaway P, Hyman M, Jin Y, Beidelschies M, Husni ME (2020) The impact of functional medicine on patient-reported outcomes in inflammatory arthritis: A retrospective study. PLoS ONE 15(10): e0240416.