Author: Dr. Michelle Durkin on 2 February 2021
One of the things that I have decided to focus on this year is to write more about the types of medical problems that walk through my door and how I treat them.
Often I will tell someone about a certain health condition that I treated (usually with success), and the common response is "Oh, I didn't know you treated that."
Something else that is all too common is the story that a patient is told to "just live with it" , or that "this medication is all we can do", or "this is your new normal."
I don't believe that this is a good solution for most people, most of the time.
I hope this case illustrates just that. I call it the case of lower leg edema.
BK, a 66 year old female presented with a chief complaint of swelling in her lower legs. She had had three major episodes of pitting edema in the last two years but the swelling seemed to come on after two total knee replacements four years ago. She was put on blood pressure medication after her operation to reduce the swelling and she now also had high blood pressure. She had been checked for circulation problems, nerve problems, and diabetes. All were negative.
At her initial visit I recommended an IgG food allergy test and a blood panel to check her metabolic markers. I also prescribed a high dose probiotic called OrthoBiotic 100 and Greens First Berry.
In her clinical history she had been on several antibiotics, gained over 100 lbs since her surgery, was having loose bowels, and had a history of eczema, asthma, and chronic allergies for which she still took Reactin daily since high school.
Her body was screaming chronic inflammation and the swelling in her legs was just another symptom of that. I suspected food intolerances, a leaky gut, and maybe some insulin resistance.
What I suspected was correct. When we got her blood work back she had all three.
Her HbA1c was 6.0 (what I like to see is < 5.5), her fasting insulin was 129 (what I like to see is <50), and her hsCRP was 17.62 (this is a marker for inflammation and it should be < 1.0).
Her IgG food intolerance test showed problems with dairy, potato, and yeast as well as a few others.
Her new prescription was to avoid all foods that scored >30 on her IgG test, and to keep taking the probiotic and the Greens First Berry. I addressed her inflammation at the cellular level by prescribing a special fish oil called SPM Active.
So what were her results?
In the first month after her initial visit we waited for her lab work. During this time she didn't need a nap during the day anymore. Also her bowel movements were more regular, and formed instead of loose. There was no significant change in her leg swelling. Remember BK was taking her probiotic & the Greens First Berry.
After three months BK remained energetic, her bowels were still normal, and the swelling had started to reduce. She also started to lose a significant amount of weight, about 20 lbs. Her BP dropped 10 points as a result.
BK remarked that all the information from the blood tests was very overwhelming but she started with small changes and kept building on them and realized that "switching her diet hadn't been that bad."
After 6 months BK said "I feel excellent". She was only taking Advil as needed (about 5-6X in 3 months), she was no longer taking her Reactin, and the swelling in her legs was almost gone. Her energy, sleep, and digestion were great. She was walking 2 miles a day, and her BP was normal, 116/72. She had lost another 24 pounds.
Fast forward to a year later and BK is off her blood pressure medication, off her allergy medication, and does not take any over-the-counter pain medication. She feels amazing. She has lost 140 lbs and has zero trouble with swelling in her legs.
These results were achieved by following a few simple recommendations. The right blood work, a change in diet, the addition of exercise once tolerated, and taking the three supplements prescribed.
And that is why, "just live with it" is not the only option you have.
I know from experience, if BK can do it, so can you!
If you think reading this case might help someone you know, please feel free to share. Thank-you to BK for letting me share her amazing results!
Now I would love to hear from you! What is something you were told to live with and you decided to take a different action? Leave a comment below and I'll be back next week with another edition of Doctor as Teacher Tuesday!
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