What Does a Functional Medicine Doctor Do?
Raleigh Functional medicine is a branch of medicine that seeks to provide holistic solutions to a wide range of chronic conditions, including autoimmune and adrenal disorders, asthma, diabetes, fibromyalgia, and metabolic syndrome, among others. In contrast to traditional medicine, which tends to rely almost exclusively on tests and imaging to diagnose disease, functional medicine doctors utilize a customized, patient-focused approach that gets at the individual causes of the conditions and symptoms their patients are experiencing and creates a treatment plan using that information.
The plans that functional medicine doctors create alongside their patients to manage these conditions also diverges somewhat from traditional medicine. While traditional medicine tends to rely almost entirely on medications and related therapies to treat disease, functional medicine doctors work to identify ways in which individuals can modify their daily practices in order to better manage the conditions they live with. These kinds of lifestyle interventions often center around food/nutrition, sleep hygiene, exercise/movement, and stress management.
What Can I Expect at a Functional Medicine Appointment?
An intake visit with a functional medicine doctor typically starts with a conversation between you and your provider. Ahead of your first appoint, you will be asked to fill out a detailed questionnaire or survey to create a baseline of information from which your doctor will then be able to work. This will include questions about your family medical history, just as you would provide in any health care setting but will also seek to understand more about your diet, daily exercise, exposure to allergens, sleep patterns, and other related questions. This will assist your doctor in building a comprehensive understanding of the unique innerworkings of your medical history, overall health, and lifestyle.
During your first visit, your functional medicine doctor will ask some follow-up questions about that survey in order to further pinpoint any potential causes or contributors to the conditions for which you are seeking treatment. At this time your provider will also undertake a physical exam. Bloodwork may be requested if appropriate to your specific case.
At the end of the visit, your doctor will likely recommend a treatment plan centered on behavioral interventions that you will then begin to implement.
What Kinds of Treatments Does a Functional Medicine Doctor Provide?
The treatment plan that is created by a functional medicine doctor varies according to the unique needs of each individual patient. However, one of the commonalities of functional medicine is that food and nutrition are viewed as one of the cornerstones of preventing and managing disease, and so any treatment plan that a functional medicine doctor creates will likely include a nutritional component. As such, food sensitivities may also be explored within the treatment plan; for many patients suffering autoimmune diseases, for example, food sensitivities can be a major cause of increased inflammation, and so identifying and removing those foods can be a central component of that particular treatment.
Other modalities of a potential treatment plan include benchmarks for sleep hygiene and stress management. Most importantly, however, each treatment plan is created not only for but with the input and participation of the patient; it is important that you have a part in creating a plan that is manageable for you.
Once a treatment plan is created and implemented, you’ll have follow-up visits to assess progress and make any necessary adjustments.