Is there any evidence about the sensory innervation of the fascia? | The International Academy of Osteopathy IAO

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Is there any evidence about the sensory innervation of the fascia?


Author: Gunther Barty   
Supervisor: Dr. biol.hum. Dipl. Psych. Robert Schleip

Background: The sensitive innervation of fascia is incontested. Considering the proprioceptive performance the fascia system with its mechanoreceptors can be regarded as the most important sense organ. At present new surveys on the topic of the fascia cannot be found. The understanding of the fascia innervation, too, can only said to be very incomplete.

Intentions: This systematic review examines the question if there is evidence of literature on the field of sensory innervation of the fascia. The examined papers are being qualitatively assessed.

Methods: On the basis of literature, references and enquiry the database files “pubmed”, “medline” and “google scholar” are beeing searched with the help of English key words. Surveys on fascia are included, whereas papers with different expressions from the domain of the connective tissue are excluded. Two additional institutes are being commissioned to do a parallel search. The papers thus discovered are being qualitatively assessed with the help of a study relevant evaluation system.

Results: Nineteen research papers from 1940 to 2011 have been identified. In eighteen studies nerve structures in the fascia have been mentioned. One study denies sensitive innervation, sixteen studies are explorative. Three studies apply interventions on animals, human preparations are in the focus of twelve research papers. Nerve structures in fascia have been found, although the pattern of distribution in mechanoreceptors was found to be irregular. Free nerve endings are being mostly mentioned. Half the number of studies show severe methodological flaws. The review is being hampered by the rather vague expression “fascia”.

Conclusions: The evidence based on methodological high-quality research papers in the field of sensory innervation of the fascia is inadequate.