Japanese Acupuncture and Moxibustion (Online)
New finding on fascia-traditional target of acupuncture
KUBO Asako 1, 2), YAMAGUCHI Satoru 1)
1) Department of Oriental Medicine, Saitama Medical University
2) Department of Physiology, Nihon University, School of Dentistry
Acupuncture has often been applied for pain relief, improving motor functions, and manipulating the autonomic nervous system. Depending on the disease, the condition of the patient, or the purpose of the treatment, the target tissue is different. The stimuli by acupuncture and moxibustion may be mechanical, chemical, and/or thermal in the periphery, so that the afferent fibers innervating the tissue can respond to the stimuli and the signals can be transmitted to the central nervous system. This peripheral acceptance may be the first step to elicit the acupuncture effect. It is well known that thin afferents innervating the skin and muscles accept and respond to the mechanical, chemical, and/or thermal stimuli. These thin afferents consist of Aδ and C fibers. In addition to the skin and muscles, there is another tissue, the fascia, which is a connective tissue wrapping the muscle. Although it appears that the fascia can perceive a noxious stimulus, limited information is available about its function in nociception. In this article, we review recent reports about fascial nociception in both animal and human subjects. The recent basic research results clearly indicate the existence of nociceptive Aδ and C fibers in the fascia. First, we introduce the basic structure of fascia and knowledge regarding nociceptive nerve fibers. Second, we review a recent anatomical and physiological study about fascial nociception in rats. Next, we summarize the results from a psychophysiological study with human subjects. Finally, we discuss the possibility of the fascia as the third tissue for acupuncture following the skin and muscles.