Inflammatory arthritis is an umbrella term for a diverse and increasingly prevalent group of diseases that involve persistent overactivation of the innate and adaptive immune systems. This can range from classical autoimmune diseases like RA and SLE, to autoinflammatory diseases like gout and psoriatic arthritis. In many cases a clear diagnosis cannot be determined.
Modern pharmacology has made great strides in developing potent immunosuppressive DMARDs and targeted biologic agents that can prevent progressive joint destruction. However, the often extreme expense and potentially harmful side effects of these agents can result in poor long-term compliance and high dropout rates. Functional Medicine acknowledges the importance of trying to stop joint erosions and rapidly bring pain and other symptoms under control. However, the emphasis in FM is placed on going beyond symptoms to identify and address the underlying root problems, which includes predisposing factors (eg. genetics and disrupted barriers), and modifiable triggers such as gut and pulmonary dysbiosis, foods, and toxins (cigarette smoke and air pollutants), along with endogenous mediators (eg. eicosanoids, cytokines, etc.) that can perpetuate inflammation.
This lecture will utilize case studies in combination with molecular systems biology research to illustrate the potential role of FM in the adjunctive management of chronic inflammatory joint conditions, with a particular emphasis on “undifferentiated” arthritis—patients for whom a diagnosis has not been established. Integrative treatment approaches, including diet, lifestyle, botanicals and nutraceuticals will be reviewed, with the goal of restoring healthy, balanced immune function.
- Present an overview of the top clinical conditions referred to as chronic inflammatory arthritis—what features do they have in common and what features distinguish them?
- Discuss the pathophysiology of chronic autoimmune and autoinflammatory arthritis—what are the proposed etiologies and how might that explain the apparent rising incidence of these diseases–with a particular emphasis on the impact of known risk factors such as cigarette smoke and air pollution.
- Use case studies to illustrate the role of Functional and Integrative Medicine in management of these conditions.