Holistic/Integrative Medicine Consults – Case Report

An 83 year old male presented with neurogenic claudication manifested as ankle pain when walking, as a result of pressure on a nerve from lumbar spinal stenosis. He spent about one year going to numerous doctors and receiving physical therapy without improvement. His quality of life was significantly impaired as he was only able to walk about one block before having to bend over to relieve the pressure on the nerve in his spine.

He requested my advice as to whether he should agree to the procedure on his spine as recommended by his doctor. I suggested that the spinal procedure was always an option for the future, but that a Functional Medicine approach that treats the entire person looking for the root cause of the problem, had the potential to help not only his ankle pain, but improve his overall health.

This would not be a quick fix, but would involve a commitment on his part to change the way he lived his life. He agreed to follow the anti-Candida (anti-yeast) food plan for 3 weeks. This food plan was chosen because of his long history of cravings for sweets and fungus on his toes. In addition, he read the two books by John Sarno about mind-body connection and took several supplements.

By the end of 3 weeks, he had lost 20 lbs and his ankle pain was 90% better. Of significance, his thyroid medicine that he had been taking for hypothyroidism for the past 40 years, had to be reduced because the foods he was now eating were no longer inflaming his thyroid and so his thyroid function had improved. His symptoms of insomnia, intestinal gas, heartburn, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and frequent urination at night also improved.

A year later, he went off the anti-candida food plan and the symptoms of ankle pain returned. He had not regained the weight he had previously lost and his thyroid was stable on the lowered dose of thyroid medicine. Again he resumed the food plan and re-read the John Sarno books and again the ankle pain improved. The ankle pain returned yet a third time due to dietary indiscretion and responded to the above treatment plan. He never needed to have a procedure on his spine.