As a Family Medicine physician, I have cared for many girls and women who had to miss school, sports, work, and life due to severe pain from their periods or ovarian cysts. Since learning and researching the new frontier of fascia, however, I have been able to help many patients to overcome this “episodic disability” that sabotages their momentum in life.
I hope you find this article, written by one of my exceptional patients, enlightening and motivating about what is possible when we are open to considering fascia’s contribution to body dysfunction.
In late May of 2022, I started experiencing left-sided pelvic pain that I assumed was related to an ovarian cyst. One week later, however, the pain had still not subsided and I found myself at the emergency room awaiting ultrasound results. “I’m surprised…I thought for sure we were going to find a big, old cyst on your ovary, but everything looks great!” the emergency room physician told me enthusiastically. Little did I know that moment would begin my long journey of seeking answers to this mysterious pain. Following this hospital visit, my diligent naturopath doctor continued ordering tests and imaging: hormone panels, X-Rays, MRI, CT scan, and follow-up ultrasounds that later uncovered some small, hemorrhagic cysts in both my left and right ovaries. I was tested for Lyme disease, cancers, and even sought out a rheumatologist after one of my labs came back ANA positive. The rheumatologist proceeded to test me for over 60 autoimmune diseases, all of which came back negative.
My pelvic pain progressively worsened with each passing week and finally peaked in mid-October of 2022 in the form of excruciating, 10/10 pain that had me in hysterics. Unable to sleep, eat, or function I became desperate for solutions. Unfortunately, western medicine did not have much to offer me other than Benzodiazepine, Norco, and Tramadol, which I did not tolerate well and could barely affect my level of pain; and one OBGYN who prescribed me hormonal birth control. Several emergency room visits later, and still all my labs and imaging appeared “normal”, other than a consistently high WBC count that left my medical team perplexed, a small, 3mm disk bulge between L4 and L5 in my spine, and an occasional hemorrhagic cyst in my ovaries. These findings were deemed unrelated to the cause of my pain, and I partly agreed.
A week later, I arrived at the office of a world-renowned gynecologist and surgeon in BeverlyHills and paid $2,500 out of pocket for a consultation. She diagnosed me with PCOS and Endometriosis after finding a 3.7cm endometrioma in my right ovary. I was offered surgery to remove the endometrioma and any endometrial lesions, GLP-1 injection (Mounjaro), Spironolactone, and Metformin for my PCOS, and a GnRH blocker called Orilissa. She would perform the surgery the following day under one condition, I had to consent to have a Mirena IUD implanted during my surgery to prevent the growth of “future lesions”. I drove home unsettled, my intuition told me not to go through with it but I felt the uncontrollable pain was boxing me in leaving me with few choices.
That evening, I called a pain management specialist and explained my situation, he immediately advised me to not go through with the surgery and referred me to a functional medicine doctor, who he declared, “can find anything!” The next day, I sat in Dr. Kim’s office and told her my story, my whole medical journey sat on her desk divided into two, fat manila folders – one with imaging, the other my labs. I met her on October 20th, 2022 in 8/10 pain and have not experienced 8/10 pain since that day. As of January 2023, my endometrioma appears to have vanished with just a few small, simple cysts in my right ovary, and my once-high WBC count has returned to a normal range. Just 4 months later, as I write this in February of 2023, many of my “pain days” consist of a manageable 2 or 3 out of 10, and I even experience a handful of pain-free days a month. Among the above improvements in my symptoms are dozens of other health victories and personal wins.
So, what caused this dramatic change in my body and symptoms? Below, I have outlined key components of the work I have been doing under the direct care of Dr. Kim:
- Addressing my body mechanics, specifically my posture habits when walking, standing,
sitting, and driving.
- Maintaining a regimen of foam rolling and exercises that strengthen my back and keep
my fascia malleable.
- Learning how to tactfully release my own fascia to relieve flare-ups through Dr. Kim’s
visual explanations of the anatomy of fascia and many OMT sessions in her office.
- Understanding that the expression of pain in one area of the body does not mean that is
where it originates from and using that knowledge to find the source of my pain.
- Reframing my perspective on pain from a once anxiety-inducing experience that made
me feel out of control to viewing my pain as “information” and not immediately assigning
it a “good” or “bad” quality.
- Not boxing myself into a diagnosis by being mindful of the language I use to describe my
pain (for example, I no longer refer to my flare-ups as “Endo pain” or “ovary pain”, I
generalize it as simply, “pelvic pain”) and taking a whole-body approach to address my
symptoms while remaining open to my body’s healing process.
I have also listed some additional factors that I feel contributed to my improvement:
- Implementing an anti-inflammatory diet that for me, eliminates grains, dairy, refined
sugars, caffeine, and alcohol.
- Having regular chiropractic adjustments with an excellent chiropractor who also supports
me with muscle testing for all the supplements I take.
- Working with a caring naturopath doctor who orders me labs and ultrasounds every 3
months to check on my progress and keeps me on a regimen of natural, compounded
progesterone and some additional supplements.
- Getting plenty of sleep, 9-10 hours a night, and helping my body recover with heat pads,
hot baths, rest, and massage.
- Maintaining a positive attitude and outlook on my health and the future, Dr. Kim’s orders!