Functional Medicine for Psoriatic Arthritis

By definition, functional medicine is medical practice or treatments that focus on optimal functioning of the body and its organs, usually involving systems of holistic or alternative medicine.1 Which begs the question, why can’t all medicine be functional medicine?

Aren’t we all meant to “function”?

Shouldn’t ALL of our doctors be looking at our bodies in a way that “focus(es) on optimal functioning of the body and its organs?"

Defining functional medicine

I don’t care whether we call it “functional,” "holistic," or "alternative," we need to change the way we view and treat the human body, and specifically psoriatic arthritis. It is a holistic, systemic disease that literally impacts the entire body. It includes “whole-body” inflammation and is not limited to specific joints or even organs. The whole body is fair game with psoriatic arthritis.

Shifting how we view and treat our bodies

It is high time that we change how we view and treat our bodies with psoriatic arthritis and really, all autoimmune conditions. Our bodies are not simple, independent parts, each doing their own thing. Rather, our bodies are made of up complex, interdependent systems. And we need medical professionals to treat and manage the “big picture.” Functional medicine doctors can look at a combination of factors including environmental, genetic, and lifestyle choices that influence our bodies beyond a specific set of symptoms.

Functional medicine and doctors

The practice of functional medicine and functional medicine doctors should work to combine the best of traditional and alternative therapy to treat the entire body. And I’m constantly surprised that as patients we run from doctor to doctor, faithfully carrying our medical records. Medical records that many of the doctors that treat us don’t bother to even look at. Only to have each doctor refer us to someone else because that isn’t in their “specialty.” Or worse, some of the doctors are even more uninformed about psoriatic arthritis than us patients.

Treating multiple conditions is complex

There are very few of us that “only” have psoriatic arthritis. Many of us have at a minimum, multiple autoimmune conditions. Therefore, we are even more so at an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome. Treating all of these conditions is complex and requires more than the band-aid approach that we’ve been using for the past 200 years.

Coverage and accessibility

Furthermore, our health systems need to do a better job of offering coverage for alternative and complementary therapies to manage psoriatic arthritis and other chronic illnesses. Functional medicine should be about more than holistic or alternative medicine. Rather it should be about bringing together the best of both worlds to treat the entire body. To make optimal functioning of the body and its organs actually possible.

I know, my little corner of the world and the midwest region is, generally speaking, behind the times. Things happen here about 10 years after they do in the rest of the United States. Accessibility to functional medicine doctors is limited at best. Some people may have more access to functional medicine doctors than I do. But I suspect that most of us are like me and do not.

It is time for change

When it comes down to it, what we really need is a complete shift in our thinking. That is the only way we are going to make any real progress in fighting psoriatic arthritis. It is highly unlikely that there is any “one” cause of psoriatic arthritis. Therefore it is highly unlikely that there will be any “one” way to treat or even cure our disease. If we can step back, and look at the big picture, the whole picture, we might just find the missing piece of the puzzle.

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