Anatomy & Organs

Fascia – structure, function & diseases

Fascia

Fascia , also known as muscle skin , is found throughout the human body. It is a fibrous, collagen-rich tissue that, when hardened, can lead to pain in various parts of the body such as the neck, back or abdomen.

What is the muscle skin?

The name fascia comes from the Latin word fascia , which means band or bundle. In addition to fibrous connective tissue , the muscle skin also includes flat connective tissue structures .A distinction is made between three groups of fascia: the superficial fascia, the deep and the visceral fascia.

  • Visceral fascia provides suspension and protection for internal organs. Important organs have their own fascial tissue, such as the meninges for the brain, the pericardium for the heart or the pleura for the lungs .
  • Deep fascia envelops individual muscles and muscle groups as well as bones and joints. Colloquially, fascia is also referred to as connective tissue.

Depending on the position and the associated task of the fascia, these are elastic to varying degrees. For example, the deep and visceral fascia are less stretchy than the superficial fascia. On the other hand, the deep fasciae are very resilient to tensile forces due to a high collagen content , which is tightly woven.

Anatomy & Structure

Fascia is a network distributed throughout the body, connecting and enveloping muscles, organs, bones, blood vessels and tendons. The superficial fascia, also called fascia superficialis or body fascia, lies under the skin, the visceral and deep fascia, also called fascia profunda , runs through the entire human body.They consist of a connective tissue structure whose essential components are elastin, collagen and water. They are criss-crossed by lymph vessels through which lymph fluid is transported. Fascia envelops individual muscles or groups of muscles. The muscles, which consist of many muscle fibers, are surrounded by the so-called epimysium. This in turn is surrounded by fascia.

The thin, white fascial layer is a maximum of three millimeters thick and contains peripheral nerve endings. Fasciae react to pressure, vibration and temperature through the contained pain and sensory receptors and can perceive changes in movement and the chemical milieu. Fascia often form the origin or attachment point of muscles. If the body moves too little, fascia can stick together, which can lead to small tears in the fascia.

Function & structure

The importance of fascia has only been recognized in recent years. It’s not just the body’s bulking material, but fascia is involved in many important processes in the body. They have important functions for the stability, mobility and maintenance of the body.

The fascia keeps all organs in their intended place, whereby the high viscoelasticity of the fascia allows the position to be varied to a certain extent if necessary. This enables organs to be moved when breathing, for example, or an adjusted position in the event of pregnancy . Fascia gives the muscles their shape, determines and maintains the position of the muscles, provides strength and supports muscle contraction.

However, fascia can not only support the muscle in contraction, but also contract itself. In addition, the fascia separates different muscles, so that muscles that are close together do not affect their function. At the same time, fascia can transfer forces between different muscles and to the skeletal system , thus ensuring interaction and smooth movement of the joints.

Various body cells can communicate with each other via the fascia . They have a high ability to bind water and thus also serve as the body’s water reservoir. The superficial fascia in particular can store fat and thus serve as an energy store.

Fasciae have a buffering function and absorb shock when moving. Ligaments that stabilize joints are also made of fascial tissue. They also form a protective layer against the ingress of foreign bodies and contain specific cells of the immune system .

Diseases & Ailments

In young, healthy people, fascia has a high level of elasticity and mobility. This decreases with age or can be limited by lack of exercise or injury. In an accident, such as a sprain or fracture, fascia can be twisted or split open.The result is pain and restricted mobility. Fascia can also be injured in cuts or operations. Glued or hardened fascia can lead to joint pain , pain in the neck , shoulder and back area, but also to abdominal pain or indefinable pain. Fascia is also involved in sports injuries such as tennis elbow.

In such cases, the fascia has lost its elasticity due to constant, excessive strain or insufficient movement and restricts the mobility of the affected muscles. Poor posture can cause the fascial tissue to shift unfavorably and not perform its function as intended.

In such cases, the lymph flow between the muscle and the fascia is disrupted, and the fascia can no longer slide, which is why the fascia is said to stick together. The lymphatic fluid transports important building and breakdown products for the body, which is impeded in the case of glued fascia and inhibits the transmission of power through the fascia.

In addition to pain, numbness or restricted mobility of the body can occur. Fascia can swell during injury or stress , pinching nerves , which also leads to pain.

Lisa Newlon
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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.