A 'winding' response: The relationship between connective tissue, acupuncture, and reduced tissue tension
Source: The Scientist
Connective tissue is an integral part of the human body, and its role in diseases and chronic pain is earning increased attention. Within the larger and growing field of mechanotransduction, scientists have been studying fibroblasts, the cells that synthesize all the proteins that compose the extracellular matrix. They live inside that matrix, and help to regulate the amount of collagen and other proteins as well as "secreting matrix-degrading enzymes in response to chronic changes in tissue forces."
When transformed to myofibroblasts, these cells can respond to acute injury by pulling the edges of the wound closed. Though these myofibroblasts die when a scar appears, chronic inflammation can create an excess of collagen, increasing tension and decreasing a full range of motion. This can also aid in the development of cancer and tissue fibroses.
Within this context, research is exploring how connective tissue's "winding response to acupuncture needles" may activate fibroblast reorganization that ultimately helps the tissue "fully relax" and reduce tissue tension. Further elaborating this relationship, researchers note that acupuncture meridians, the lines that connect acupuncture points, are located along connective-tissue planes.
Researchers conclude that acupuncture needle manipulation "constitutes a useful tool that can be used to study this biomechanical function" and encourage more attention to this area of treatment potential.