Neurological happiness and irritation – facilitation

In the 1950s, osteopathic researchers began to use the term ‘facilitation’ to describe how and why osteopathy worked. Facilitation is a state of affairs where a part of the body has become so ‘in lesion’ (or wonky) that it starts to send signals to the nervous system about how everything is going wrong with it, so for example an achey back will send signals of pain, through the nerves, into the spinal cord and towards the brain. Because it’s not working very well, sometimes these signals can also be messed up and it is difficult for the nervous system to understand. It’s like a child who’s desperately upset trying to explain what’s wrong by yelling, stamping and crying.

The nervous system responds as best as it can to these signals that it’s receiving from the lesioned part, in this example possibly asking the muscles to relax a bit. If the lesioned area can receive and act on these messages appropriately then normal service (homeostasis) can  resumed and everything calms down again.

But sometimes the lesioned area is so messed up that it just can’t interpret the signals correctly, and hears the message wrongly. The combination of this confused information along with it’s state of irritability may mean it sends a further signal out requesting the opposite to what is actually needed (like a child shouting “GO AWAY!”, when they really want a hug). This sets up what is called a positive feedback cycle, where the problem (the lesion) now creates a response (from the nervous system) which worsens the problem (the lesion). In this facilitated state, anything that happens near or around the lesioned area creates a larger than necessary and unhealthy response, which further sets off the destructive positive feedback cycle. To use another family analogy, it’s like a couple stuck in a bad marriage. Every time the husband looks at the wife, she sees it as ‘him looking at me in that way again’, she challenges or verbally attacks him feeling wronged. He in turn feels set upon ‘again’ and responds even more emotively, and the cycle of aggression and hurt continues. Very soon the bad atmosphere is all pervading although original problem that set everything off can barely be remembered, and the marriage finally breaks down over an argument about who left the cap off the toothpaste, as now even the tiniest event causes a dramatic ‘faciliated’ response.

Because of the design of the spinal cord, where different neurological circuits are all very close together, researchers noticed that ‘cross talk’ began between the irritated circuits and their neighbours. So for example if the pain was coming from muscles about half way down the spine (D6 for those anatomists reading), it could affect any nerve circuits or synapses (nerve junctions) in the same region, in this case the nerves that control the stomach and duodenum. 

The original cause, such as aching back in this example, could cause lesions in those neighbouring systems and then because of the linkages up and down the spinal cord, the problems could spread to distant areas.

So similarly to the marital argument, until that positive feedback loop that spreads and feeds itself is broken, ill heath and poor function will prevail across the body.

The Lightning Process is an excellent way of intervening with this damaging state of affairs, and restores order and calm to facilitation; whether it be just on a small scale ‘sore back’ level, a ‘getting stressed, guts spasms and sweating at the thought of meeting new people’ or a ‘whole body in a state of chaos’, such can be found in many cases such as ME/CFS.

 Little video coming on this soon