Skip to main content

Real-World Outcomes: Inflammatory Arthritis Outcomes Better With Functional Medicine Add-On

October 20, 2020

With its focus on lifestyle factors such as diet, physical activity, and environment exposures, functional medicine may be a helpful adjunct for patients with inflammatory arthritis who do not improve with standard care alone, according to a study published online in PLOS One. 

“In this retrospective study, the adjunctive treatment with a 12-week functional medicine program improved PROMIS (Patient Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System) physical and mental health scores,” reported Cleveland Clinic researchers, “as well as pain scores as compared to the standard of care.”  

The study included 109 patients with rheumatoid arthritis or psoriatic arthritis who were treated according to American College of Rheumatology guidelines for their condition. Fifty-four patients underwent a functional medicine program in addition to standard care, while the remaining 55 patients received standard care alone. Patient-reported outcomes were collected at baseline and 12 weeks.

Patients who received adjunctive functional medicine had a statistically significant 0.92-point score decrease in pain and a 2.84 point greater change in PROMIS physical heath score compared with patients who received standard care only, according to the study.  

Improvements in PROMIS mental health scores, meanwhile, were dependent on age. Compared with younger patients, patients older than 55 showed an improvement with adjunctive functional medicine, researchers noted, suggesting an added benefit for older patients. 

“Due to the individualized nature of patient care plans in the Center for Functional Medicine, it is difficult to speculate which particular component of functional medicine treatment had the greatest impact on patient reported outcomes, or whether it was due to other personalized treatment variables,” researchers wrote. “Further research is needed to elucidate which aspect(s) of functional medicine is responsible for the positive results seen in our study.” 

Jolynn Tumolo


Droz N, Hanaway P, Hyman M, Jin Y, Beidelschies M, Husni ME. The impact of functional medicine on patient-reported outcomes in inflammatory arthritis: A retrospective study. PLoS One. 2020;15(10):e0240416. Published 2020 Oct 8. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0240416

Agree or disagree with an article? Share your professional thoughts on an article you read.

Your Name
14 + 4 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.
Back to Top