Dr. Cathy Kim, MD:
In the band-aid filled realm of chronic health conditions, fibromyalgia patients are networking and scouring the internet for relief and reasons for their symptoms. For Dr. Cathy Kim, MD, her mission transcends a mere diagnosis—she is passionate about delivering educational care to improve structural and metabolic imbalances that have significant impact on this multisystem condition.
Fibromyalgia is a diagnosis of Chronic Widespread Pain (CWP) that finally received a formal name by the 1980’s, but the diagnostic criteria prioritized physical pain over the cognitive, gastrointestinal, and psychological disturbances. By 2011, more sophisticated questionnaires were created to capture these dimensions, e.g., Symptom Severity (SS) score, Polysymptomatic Distress Scale (PDS).
Unfortunately, while we live in an era with incredible diagnostic capability via laboratory, radiology, neurology, or genetic testing, no such efficient testing exists for syndromes such as fibromyalgia. It is no surprise that it usually requires years before fibromyalgia is accurately diagnosed. Another contributing factor is that fibromyalgia patients have often learned since childhood that trips to the doctor would yield “normal results,” and so they learn to ignore and underreport most pain unless unbearable. As a result, many fibromyalgia patients find that the 0-10 pain scale is inadequate, and will report numbers in decimals, such as 5.5. In their experience, a difference of 0.5 in pain or functional loss in multiple areas can make the difference between being able to get out of bed or not.
One of the most destabilizing aspects of fibromyalgia is its unpredictability. Every morning is a rapid assessment of weighing how much could be accomplished and at what cost. A “good day” means overdoing it and paying for it for days with a flare. This irregularity can have the same psychological effect as an abusive relationship. To survive the trauma of temperamental control, victims often seek to minimize unpredictable outbursts by avoiding provoking “the beast” – thus, they may avoid new activities or treatments. Other personalities may refuse to submit and take any consequences with resolve – “it is what it is.” No wonder many fibromyalgia patients suffer with anxiety/depression or dysfunctional family dynamics. Caring for patients with fibromyalgia requires understanding of the variable nature of the condition and compassion for the diversity of coping styles.
Who Stands at Risk?
Research has identified that fibromyalgia predominantly affects females, and may run in families, suggesting a genetic component.
In her practice, Dr. Cathy Kim, MD has noticed other risk factors, such as petite stature (usually <63 inches), knee joint hypermobility, and history of chronic use of anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen or naproxen.
Deciphering Symptoms and Causes
It is interesting to note that the statistics for female to male incidence of Fibromyalgia is similar to that of Joint Hypermobility Syndrome (JHS).
Over the last 50 years, research has been correlating JHS with non-musculoskeletal conditions such as: gynecological problems (e.g, pelvic floor weakness, lower urinary tract symptoms) and functional gastrointestinal disorders (e.g., irritable bowel syndrome, constipation). This overlap with fibromyalgia was noted by United Kingdom clinician researchers who published Hypermobility, Fibromyalgia, and Chronic Pain (2010), describing the associations, but without explanation as to why.
Could Fascia be the Missing Link
Over the last twenty years, appreciation of fascia as a whole-body organ that influences our physiology, immune function, and psychology has been growing exponentially. New concepts include:
- Pain: Fascia has more pain receptors than our skin
- Stiffness: Inflammatory substances (from diet and toxins) can cause fascial layers to adhere and stiffen
- Metabolism: The cell membranes of macrophages (type of immune cell) release inflammatory factors if they are deformed by squeezing through tight fascia
- Emotional: Fascia sends signals to areas of the brain that regulate emotions.
The latest fascia research even identifies that lack of movement can change the viscosity of fluid between our fascial layers, and cause these layers to become adherent. Dr. Cathy Kim’s research suggests that joint hypermobility (especially the knees) promotes relative fascial immobility, which progresses over time and interferes with musculoskeletal movement, gastrointestinal motility, pelvic floor tone, circulation, and nerve conduction.
Fascia and Lifestyle Treatment Approach at Dr. Cathy Kim, MD
Dr. Cathy Kim has found that many chronic medical conditions, such as Vertigo, TMJ pain, Pelvic Pain, and Plantar Fasciitis, can be cured or dramatically improved when movement mechanics are addressed.
Her treatment and homework address these main areas:
- Movement education to strengthen underutilized muscles and change fascial tension
- Targeted myofascial release to aid in improving biomechanics
- Diet education on common inflammatory foods and toxins
- Counseling on the role of the vagus nerve in managing stress
Dr. Cathy Kim, MD: A Commitment to Root Cause
As a medical doctor scientist, Dr. Cathy Kim critically evaluates the consequences of modern lifestyle on our health. Dr. Cathy Kim combines cutting edge fascia research with functional medicine concepts to approach fibromyalgia as bodywide fascial dysfunction that is greatly affected by modern diet and lifestyle.
Let’s talk about your health
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