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Clinical Relevance of Fascial Tissue and Dysfunctions


Fascia is composed of collagenous connective tissue surrounding and interpenetrating skeletal muscle, joints, organs, nerves, and vascular beds. Fascial tissue forms a whole-body, continuous three-dimensional viscoelastic matrix of structural support. The classical concept of its mere passive role in force transmission has recently been disproven. Fascial tissue contains contractile elements enabling a modulating role in force generation and also mechanosensory fine-tuning. This hypothesis is supported by in vitro studies demonstrating an autonomous contraction of human lumbar fascia and a pharmacological induction of temporary contraction in rat fascial tissue. The ability of spontaneous regulation of fascial stiffness over a time period ranging from minutes to hours contributes more actively to musculoskeletal dynamics. Imbalance of this regulatory mechanism results in increased or decreased myofascial tonus, or diminished neuromuscular coordination, which are key contributors to the pathomechanisms of several musculoskeletal pathologies and pain syndromes. Here, we summarize anatomical and biomechanical properties of fascial tissue with a special focus on fascial dysfunctions and resulting clinical manifestations. Finally, we discuss current and future potential treatment options that can influence clinical manifestations of pain syndromes associated with fascial tissues.

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The authors each declare no potential conflicts of interest.

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This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

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Correspondence to R. Schleip.

Additional information

W.K. and M.V. contributed equally to this paper.

This article is part of the Topical Collection on Myofascial Pain

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Klingler, W., Velders, M., Hoppe, K. et al. Clinical Relevance of Fascial Tissue and Dysfunctions. Curr Pain Headache Rep 18, 439 (2014).

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  • Myofascial pain
  • Fascia
  • Lumbar fascia
  • Dysfunction