My Fascia has a twist, tear, separation, adhesion, or some other sort of distortion from normal … why does that necessarily cause pain? Well, these things Don’t always cause pain. This post is not about the mechanisms of pain generation in the body, so I’ll keep this part brief and simplified, but pain is only experienced if signals from specific types of neurons/nerves are registered by the brain. There are many other details and factors involved in that process, but again, I’m not writing this to describe them. I’m writing to make the point that for a change in the myofascia to cause pain in the same area of the body that it exists, it must directly or indirectly result in these pain signals being sent to the brain.
So how does this happen? There are a number of examples, but for the sake of brevity I’ll just choose one for today …
Let’s say you strain your hamstring at the gym or on a run. Depending on the specifics of the trauma, it is theorized by some that a number of changes in the myofasica could have occurred. One such change could be a twisted fascial band that was formerly a flat sheath of fascia (or at least part of the sheath is twisted). How does a strong longitudinal-force through the muscle cause these distortions to occur? That’s a great question. I could go on with more theory, but the truth is that I’ve never hooked up a camera inside the hamstring and recorded the traumatic event. Such real-time documentation is impossible for obvious reasons, though there is plenty of post-traumatic ultrasound imaging that shows soft tissue changes with injury. What I can say is that these fascial changes can be palpated, and when they are treated with specific manual techniques to reverse the aforementioned ‘twists,’ the results are undeniable.
Returning to our original question, it is important to know that tiny nerve endings and blood vessels exist pretty much everywhere in the body. Fascia is lined with, and pierced by them. Imagine twisting a towel that was lined and pierced with these tiny nerve endings. At a certain point, the twisted towel would become tight enough that it was compressing the nerves. This illustrates, in a very simple manner, one way that fascial distortions can have an effect on the nerves in the area, causing pain and dysfunction.