Fascial Counterstrain for the Lymphatic System
Just like the automobile that you drive, the human body has a built-in drainage and filtration system. That system is called the lymphatic system.
Fascial Counterstrain (FCS) is able to normalize the function of the lymphatic system so it can remove inflammation and have an optimally functioning immune system.
Understanding the Lymphatic System
To understand the function of the lymphatic system, one must first examine the circulation of blood through our body at the cellular level.
Arteries terminate at the capillary bed where oxygen and nutrient-rich blood leaks out of the smallest arteries (arterioles) and bathes our tissues in life-sustaining fluid.
The smallest veins, called venules, collect most of this nutrient-depleted fluid, returning it to the heart to begin the process anew. I used the word “most” because 10% of the fluid (that which contains large protein molecules) cannot pass through the small holes in the venules and must be removed from our tissues by another system. That system is the lymphatic system.
This protein-rich fluid, collected by the lymphatic system, contains dead cells, bacteria, toxins, inflammation, and even cancer cells. Once collected by the lymphatic vessels, the fluid, now called “lymph,” is propelled back towards the heart through a series of one-way valves. The lymphatic fluid then flows through “lymph nodes” which contain immune system cells that kill off all of the harmful micro-organisms like viruses and bacteria. The lymphatic system, in essence, “cleans” the space between the cells (called the interstitial space) of unwanted molecules and fluids.
Lymphatic Vessel Walls Actively Contract
Several forces are involved in the propagation of lymphatic fluid against gravity, including actual contractions of the lymphatic vessel walls. Lymphatic vessel segments, termed “lymphangions,” contract every 6-8 seconds pushing the lymphatic fluid through each successive one-way valve as illustrated above. These miniature lymphatic pumps are currently the focus of intensive research due the lymphatic system’s association with multiple diseases.
Since lymphatic vessels are contractile, the possibility of lymphatic “vasospasm” or dysfunction must be examined. Lymphatic vessels, which are sensitive to inflammation and endotoxins, can be stimulated to contract by the presence of these chemicals, narrowing the diameter of the lymphatic vessel which subsequently makes the lymphatic pump mechanism less effective. This condition, called lymphatic dysfunction, leads to fluid stasis and an accumulation of inflammatory chemicals in the involved tissues.
The Fascial Counterstrain approach to lymphatic treatment involves directly treating the dysfunctional lymphatic vessels after identifying them via the presence of lymphatic “tender points” indicating that the vessel and lymphangions in a chronic state of vasospasm. Once successfully treated with FCS, the lymphatic segment’s “pump mechanism” is restored, allowing the lymphatic system to function normally, cleansing the area of chemical irritants. Dramatic improvements in pain, edema and regional inflammation can be seen frequently after only 1-2 sessions (see below.)
A partial list of common conditions that benefit from FCS treatment directed to the venous and lymphatic system include: Lymphedema, chronic muscle pain, chronic bursitis, tendonitis, chronic infections and viruses, osteoarthritis of the spine and extremities, inflammatory bowel disease, tinnitus (ear ringing), post-operative pain/ swelling, pinched nerves, numbness & tingling in the hands and feet.
What About Lymphatics of the Cranium?
Lymphatic vessels also exist in the central nervous system. This newly discovered filtration and immune system is called the “Glymphatic System,” and it is essential for the normal function and health of the brain and spinal cord. FCS helps restore the normal lymphatic pump mechanism of the cranium and spinal cord which can help eliminate poorly understood symptoms such as: impaired cognition, chronic headaches, chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic vertigo, post-concussion syndrome, tremors, tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and even developmental delay in children.
Brian Tuckey PT, OCS is the originator of FCS for the lymphatic system and currently teaches the technique to physical therapists and manual therapists worldwide. If you feel you may have lymphatic dysfunction and wish to receive treatment you can set up an evaluation with one of the FCS trained practitioners here at Tuckey and Associates Physical Therapy or use the Counterstrain.com or JIcounterstrain.com websites to find a practitioner in your area.