Fascia: The forgotten connective tissue, and new organ?
An injury often involves the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones which are all part of the connective tissues of our bodies. The fascia is also part of the connective tissue but is rarely talked about. It is a sheath of connective tissue under the skin that covers all joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments and visceral organs. There are no orthopedic tests to identify a fascial injury other than pressure points where we think the fascia is tense and irritated. Trauma to the body can replicate the same pain within the fascia that other connective tissue injuries can. Researchers in the past few years have concluded that the fascia, also known as the interstitium has properties that could classify it as a new organ. This was the conclusion of a study in the Journal of Scientific Reports published in March of 2018. The fascia was previously thought as just a wall of dense collagen, but now according to Dr. Neil Theise a professor of pathology at New York University, it’s more like an “open, fluid filled highway”. This was only discovered when a new imaging technique called probe based confocal laser endomicroscopy or pCLE, enabled them to examine living tissues on a microscopic level. Our bodies which are about 60-70% water, has about two thirds of it in the cells and about one third outside the cells in the fluid filled spaces of this interstitium or fascia. Researchers at Mt. Sinai hospital in NYC believe that the fluid filled fascia can act as a portal to deliver lymph to and from organs and unfortunately serve as a transportation highway for metastatic cancerous cell migration. These same researchers believe the fluid filled spaces may also act as a shock absorber to protect tissues during daily functions as well, and that is the connection to many acute and chronic pain syndromes