Research Review: The thoracolumbar fascia: anatomy, function and clinical considerations

By Erik Korzen DC, NASM-CES, Acupuncturist

Edited by Brent Brookbush DPT, PT, COMT, MS, PES, CES, CSCS, ACSM H/FS

Original Citation: Willard, F.H., Vleeming, A., Schuenke, M.D., Danneels, L., Schleip, R. The thoracolumbar fascia: anatomy, function and clinical considerations.  Journal of Anatomy, 2012. 221, 507-536.  Full Article

Why is this relevant?: The thoracolumbar fascia (T/L fascia) is a complex network of myofascial structures that exist to stabilize the lumbopelvic area and provide a connection between the extremities and trunk.  This study includes anatomical and histologic examination of the passive and active structures associated with the T/L fascia as well as the embryologic origin of many relevant structures.  The researchers performed an extensive review of the current, and sometimes conflicting, evidence surrounding the T/L fascia.  This includes histologic examination, innervation, biomechanics and clinical considerations.  The findings of this study imply that the T/L fascia is more realistically based on a 2 layer model that receives proprioceptive and nociceptive innervation.  Additionally, the findings indicate that the T/L fascia can transmit tension and therefore assist in stabilizing the lumbar spine and sacroiliac joints.

Thoracolumbar fascia. Notice the lighter colored band of tissue. This is the fascia. By Anatomist90 - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,; Thoracolumbar fascia. Notice the lighter colored band of tissue. This is the fascia.

Study Summary

Study DesignReview
Level of EvidenceLevel of Evidence III - Evidence from non-experimental descriptive studies, such as comparative studies, correlation studies, and case-control studies
Subject DemographicsNot Applicable
Outcome Measures

T/L Fascia Anatomy, Histology, Innervation, Biomechanics, Clinical Relevance were all considered in this review article

Alphabetical Abbreviations used throughout the article: