Has Your Fascia Freaked Out?

The belief that painful lesions exist within the muscle and/or fascia of those with fibromyalgia remains a popular one, despite the absence of any supporting pathophysiological evidence. But, to be entirely fair, the very name of the condition suggests that such an association might indeed exist.

However, the upshot of this incorrect belief is that people with fibromyalgia are being confronted by a bewildering array of therapies, products and appliances targeted at their muscles and/or fascia.

One of the most remarkable therapeutic devices currently being advertised and marketed to them is a white plastic clawed implement known as the FasciaBlaster.

The sales pitch correctly points out that fibromyalgia is “the second most common symptom ailment that affects the muscular (sic) skeletal system next to osteoarthritis” and that people with the condition often either have to change their job or leave the workforce.

Then follows an astounding revelation: “fibromyalgia is NOT a biological abnormality in the nervous system or a physicological (sic) disorder– it’s something that is caused throughout life that triggers a TOTAL FASCIA FREAK OUT!”

But evidently there are 7 phases of this “fascia freak out” and those who are in phases 3 to 7 have real cause for concern and require treatment, which fortunately can be self-administered should they choose to purchase the said implement.

A chart has even been compiled showing the condition of the fascia at each phase, what’s happening in the body, and both the symptoms present and the respective diagnoses: https://ashleyblackguru.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Fascia-Chart.pdf

So how can fascia “freak out” and cause mischief to its owner?

According to Ashley Black, inventor of the FasciaBlaster, “Nerves flow through the fascia, and tight fascia can cause pinched nerves, tingling sensations and numbness. In addition, the nerve is what fires the muscle, so if the nerve supply is limited, muscle output is lessened.” Evidently tight fascia can also restrict joints and “choke out muscles, causing a host of orthopedic problems.” And fascia can even trap fat, causing cellulite! Such entrapment suggests a potential cosmetic role for the FasciaBlaster.

It turns out that Ashley Black believes that many illnesses of unknown origin “such as Fibromyalgia, Migraines,“itis” (sic), Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, IBS, Restless Leg Syndrome, nerve pain, tender points, and many more are rooted in the fascia system”:

Total Body Pain Relief

She even suggests her own test: “A good way to check if fascia could be part of your total body pain is to pinch your forearm or the top of your leg and pull up and away from the bone. If the skin does not pull up easily, then fascia is at least part of the problem.”

Ashley Black’s implement is claimed to be the only self-treatment tool “designed to break up fascial adhesions and restore healthy fascia.” Moreover, “with consistent use, users can expect relief from pain, tightness, and restriction as well as improved muscle performance, mobility, circulation, nerve activity, and total body function.”

A comprehensive series of self-help tutorials is readily available on her website: https://ashleyblackguru.com/tutorials-home/

For those with fibromyalgia, a short video is used to explain the treatment: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JsNq9TLJWmc

So who is Ashley Black?

On her website Ashley describes herself as an “inventor, best-selling AUTHOR, fasciology expert and the owner of an exploding multi-million dollar business”: https://ashleyblackguru.com/about/

Apart from having attained “guru” status, Ashley Black does not claim to have any health professional qualifications or to have performed any research to support either her idiosyncratic views on fascia (quaintly termed “fasciology”) or her claims for therapeutic success that can be achieved by those with fibromyalgia who use her implement on a regular basis.

From the above on-line information, one can only conclude that that the aphorism of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe [1749-1832] still rings true: “Nothing is more terrible than to see ignorance in action.”

From: Maxims and Reflexions, I (translated by John Stuart Blackie in The Wisdom of Goethe).

9 Comments

  1. There is another product on the market for which quite remarkable claims are being made – the Fascia ReleaZer.

    According to the accompanying promotional material, if the fascial tissues are not exercised on a regular basis “they can stick together and thicken, losing elasticity and causing tears, inflammation and discomfort.”

    This sounds very similar to the “fascia freaking out” story.

    But do not despair!

    Use of the vibrating implement is said to rejuvenate and regenerate muscle fasciae (sic) tissue, boost blood supply, as well as increase suppleness and mobility significantly.

    But vibration by mechanical means is not a new fad.

    In “A Manual of Natural Therapy (1908)” by Dr Thomas Luke, two vibrators are pictured – the “Ruk” Vibrator and the “Barker” Vibrator. The claims being made of their efficacy are not quite as far-fetched as those for the more modern inventions:

    “Mechanical vibration is an admirable adjuvant to ordinary massage, and is one of the most passive movements used in medical gymnastics. There is no doubt that a machine-driven instrument can produce effects unattainable by means of the human hand. The effect may be stimulating or soothing as desired, while the circulation in any part can be improved, and the absorption of any morbid effusion can be hastened.” [p. 149]

    References:

    http://www.stressnomore.co.uk/beurer-mg800-fascia-releazer-11057.html#product-description

    Luke TD. A Manual of Natural Therapy. Bristol: John Wright and Sons, Ltd., 1908: 134-151.

  2. INSTRUMENT ASSISTED SOFT TISSUE MOBILISATION

    There seems to be no limit to the number of tools available for the purpose of administering massage: https://au.pinterest.com/pin/292804413257849150/

    Despite the variations in treatment approaches and instrument design, the general premise of what is known as Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Mobilisation (IASTM) is to enhance “myofascial mobility” with limited adverse effects such as discomfort during treatment or bruising after treatment.

    Claims for success of IASTM in various conditions, such as lateral epicondylitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, chronic ankle instability, and patellofemoral pain syndrome are not supported by the relevant studies that have to date been undertaken.

    The use of these appliances over “myofascial trigger points” is of course bedevilled by the fact that their existence as pathophysiological entities has never been demonstrated.

    A recent systematic review of IASTM by Cheatham et al. [2016] concluded: “overall results among studies were insignificant with the IASTM group displaying equal improvement as the control or comparison groups … The current evidence seems to lack the methodological rigours necessary to validate the efficacy of IASTM itself or any of the IAST protocols.”

    The authors suggest: “clinicians may also benefit from further reading related research in order to further understand the postulated physiological mechanisms that occur with the different myofascial therapies.”

    Should clinicians choose to take this advice, it seems that they will succeed in rediscovering the entity that was once termed “fibrositis”: http://www.fmperplex.com/2015/07/14/could-fibrositis-be-making-a-comeback/

    But in so doing, they might recall the words of Ogden Nash [1902-1971]: “I haven’t the slightest idea where fashions in pathology are born …” [From Saturday Evening Post, October 14, 1933, “How’s your sacro-iliac?”]

    Reference:

    Cheatham SW, et al. The efficacy of instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization: a systematic review. J Can Chiropr Assoc 2016; 60(3): 200- 211.

  3. Since I read those fascia stories they made non sense to me. As a patient, I feel as all my systems are involved. In fact, the last year, when I was diagnosed, my whole body hurt so badly and I was anxious and having digestive problems for almost four months; while I had some breathless, weakness, shakes and nauseas, etc…those were not the most remarkable symptoms and I thought I was feeling distressed for the pain.
    This year my symptoms are different, I can control pain, so definitely is not the worst symptom. Instead, I often feel very tired, with migraines, some times even lethargic and with shakes, besides I feel as I can’t control my temperature easily. The nauseas and shortness of breath are daily things now…and sometimes I feel tension and butterflies in my stomach…so how fascia could explain all these? It is sad that there are so many people playing to do science with serious issues like this.

    • Thanks for your response. Yes, it seems that “fascia” is again in fashion and all pain sufferers do need to be made aware of the enormous amount of nonsensical advice and the various products that are being targeted at them.

      This may be of interest to you and others who are interested in Chronic Widespread Pain (aka Fibromyalgia). According to Professor Alexander (Sandy) McFarlane (Professor of Psychiatry and Head of the University of Adelaide Centre for Traumatic Stress Studies and an acknowledged world expert in this subject), “Pain shares many of the underlying neural substrates with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Regions such as the amygdala, insular and thalamus, which are critical to nociception, somatic registration and sensory filtering, are disrupted in PTSD in a way that is similar to chronic pain patients. Prospective studies of military personnel highlight how activation of the inflammatory cascades is a significant risk factor for emerging PTSD symptoms on deployment. Equally, in longitudinal studies of accident victims, PTSD predicts chronic pain and disability. Interventions need to recognise the centrality of the shared neurobiological underpinnings of these disorders and develop interventions that modulate and re-regulate the systems that drive the hyper-reactivity to environmental stimuli that underpin both pain and PTSD.”

      Reference: Abstract presented by Professor McFarlane at Plenary Session 1 of the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Australian Pain Society in Adelaide on Monday 10 April 2017.

  4. Thanks Dr. Quintner. It is really important for us to understand what is happening into our bodies, so the newest academy conclusions about chronic pain are totally about us and our hope. I will never tire of thanking you all for accepting the challenge of researching this complex disorder bypassed for so long time.

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