Pain gets our attention (some of us faster than others!) But what is pain anyway? I think it’s useful to understand what pain is before trying to make sense of fascia’s role in pain and dysfunction (compensation).
At its simplest, pain could be described as the perception of danger. Said even simpler, pain is always perceived. That doesn’t mean it isn’t REAL. Pain happens due to nociceptors in your body communicating to your brain that something is amiss in one part of your body. Those nociceptors don’t know WHAT is wrong or how to fix it (that’s not their job). Their job is to ping you with a pain signal so you can investigate. It’s YOUR JOB to determine if the threat is credible, and if it is – do something about it to bring your body back to homeostasis, or safety.
The thing is – you (your conscious or subconscious self) can create the feeling inside that something is wrong, and your body might react to that message with a physical pain signal.
Your nervous system, mindset, beliefs about yourself – all matter when it comes to the perception of pain.
So keep that in mind as we dive into fascia’s role in pain, injury and dysfunction.
There are 3 main categories of pain that I want to cover today:
Tendon/ligament injuries, joint pain and soft tissue pain.
A tendon or ligament injury includes something like Achilles tendonitis or an ACL tear, to MCL sprains or elbow tendonitis.
Joint pain could be medically diagnosed (not by me, maybe your doctor has said this of you) as arthritis, bursitis or disc degeneration, but I would also include pain in the joint, however it is felt (sharp, nerve-like, dull and achy etc).
Soft tissue pain includes myofascial pain syndrome, fibromyalgia, connective tissue disorder etc.
Nerve pain can happen in a joint or feel like it’s in soft tissue (take sciatica for example, which shoots pain down the leg), so I am not creating a separate category for it but rather including it here.
In the video I break down the role fascia plays in each of these, but the general theory is this:
Fascia wraps every nerve ending, muscle fibril, muscle fiber etc. Fascia is tendon and ligament, just a more fibrous dense version. Fascia largely dictates circulation, because all of your arteries and veins run through the soft tissue structure (aka, your fascial system). Fascia can pull joints out of alignment, irritate nerves, and block precious blood flow that is necessary for tendons and ligaments, joints etc to be happy. Beyond that, fascia is largely responsible for the synthesizing of collagen and hyaluronic acid, both of which are crucial for cellular repair and healing. And finally, fascia has its own pain receptors and responds to chemical messengers like fear or cortisol, and can actually thicken in response.
With all of this in mind it starts to become clear how fascia plays a big role in pain of all kinds, and the healing of it, whether the pain is tendon/ligament, joint or more soft tissue. And beyond these three, you can probably deduce how it might play a role in trauma or stress induced physical pain.
Please share one takeaway from this video that surprised or inspired you! I’ll see you in the comments.