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bibliography * The PainScience Bibliography contains plain language summaries of thousands of scientific papers and others sources, like a specialized blog. This page is about a single scientific paper in the bibliography, Willard 2012.

The thoracolumbar fascia: anatomy, function and clinical considerations

updated
Willard FH, Vleeming A, Schuenke MD, Danneels L, Schleip R. The thoracolumbar fascia: anatomy, function and clinical considerations. J Anat. 2012 Dec;221(6):507–36. PubMed #22630613.
Tags: anatomy, fascia, etiology, back pain, controversy, debunkery, pro, massage, manual therapy, treatment, pain problems, spine

PainSci summary of Willard 2012?This page is one of thousands in the PainScience.com bibliography. It is not a general article: it is focused on a single scientific paper, and it may provide only just enough context for the summary to make sense. Links to other papers and more general information are provided at the bottom of the page, as often as possible. ★★★★☆?4-star ratings are for bigger/better studies and reviews published in more prestigious journals, with only quibbles. Ratings are a highly subjective opinion, and subject to revision at any time. If you think this paper has been incorrectly rated, please let me know.

An extremely detailed review of the anatomy of the thoracolumbar and its clinical significance in back pain.

original abstractAbstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

In this overview, new and existent material on the organization and composition of the thoracolumbar fascia (TLF) will be evaluated in respect to its anatomy, innervation biomechanics and clinical relevance. The integration of the passive connective tissues of the TLF and active muscular structures surrounding this structure are discussed, and the relevance of their mutual interactions in relation to low back and pelvic pain reviewed. The TLF is a girdling structure consisting of several aponeurotic and fascial layers that separates the paraspinal muscles from the muscles of the posterior abdominal wall. The superficial lamina of the posterior layer of the TLF (PLF) is dominated by the aponeuroses of the latissimus dorsi and the serratus posterior inferior. The deeper lamina of the PLF forms an encapsulating retinacular sheath around the paraspinal muscles. The middle layer of the TLF (MLF) appears to derive from an intermuscular septum that developmentally separates the epaxial from the hypaxial musculature. This septum forms during the fifth and sixth weeks of gestation. The paraspinal retinacular sheath (PRS) is in a key position to act as a 'hydraulic amplifier', assisting the paraspinal muscles in supporting the lumbosacral spine. This sheath forms a lumbar interfascial triangle (LIFT) with the MLF and PLF. Along the lateral border of the PRS, a raphe forms where the sheath meets the aponeurosis of the transversus abdominis. This lateral raphe is a thickened complex of dense connective tissue marked by the presence of the LIFT, and represents the junction of the hypaxial myofascial compartment (the abdominal muscles) with the paraspinal sheath of the epaxial muscles. The lateral raphe is in a position to distribute tension from the surrounding hypaxial and extremity muscles into the layers of the TLF. At the base of the lumbar spine all of the layers of the TLF fuse together into a thick composite that attaches firmly to the posterior superior iliac spine and the sacrotuberous ligament. This thoracolumbar composite (TLC) is in a position to assist in maintaining the integrity of the lower lumbar spine and the sacroiliac joint. The three-dimensional structure of the TLF and its caudally positioned composite will be analyzed in light of recent studies concerning the cellular organization of fascia, as well as its innervation. Finally, the concept of a TLC will be used to reassess biomechanical models of lumbopelvic stability, static posture and movement.

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