The fascia of the limbs and back--a review

J Anat. 2009 Jan;214(1):1-18. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7580.2008.01011.x.


Although fasciae have long interested clinicians in a multitude of different clinical and paramedical disciplines, there have been few attempts to unite the ensuing diverse literature into a single review. The current article gives an anatomical perspective that extends from the gross to the molecular level. For expediency, it deals only with fascia in the limbs and back. Particular focus is directed towards deep fascia and thus consideration is given to structures such as the fascia lata, thoracolumbar fascia, plantar and palmar fascia, along with regional specializations of deep fascia such as retinacula and fibrous pulleys. However, equal emphasis is placed on general aspects of fascial structure and function, including its innervation and cellular composition. Among the many functions of fascia considered in detail are its ectoskeletal role (as a soft tissue skeleton for muscle attachments), its importance for creating osteofascial compartments for muscles, encouraging venous return in the lower limb, dissipating stress concentration at entheses and acting as a protective sheet for underlying structures. Emphasis is placed on recognizing the continuity of fascia between regions and appreciating its key role in coordinating muscular activity and acting as a body-wide proprioceptive organ. Such considerations far outweigh the significance of viewing fascia in a regional context alone.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Abdomen / anatomy & histology*
  • Animals
  • Extremities / anatomy & histology*
  • Fascia / anatomy & histology*
  • Fascia / innervation
  • Fascia / physiology
  • Humans
  • Muscle, Skeletal / anatomy & histology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Rats
  • Thorax / anatomy & histology*