In dysfunction and disease physiological space is altered. Pathological processes and tissue change associated with disease alter spatial relationships. Whether it is a muscle tear, degenerative joint disease, tendon inflammation and fibrosis – space is altered. Osteopathic treatment is often directed towards improving spatial relationships between and within tissues entangled by dysfunction or disease.
Physiological space is additionally influenced by the balance of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) – muscular and fascial tone, vascular diameter, gastrointestinal motility and lymphatics are all influenced by ANS balance.
ANS function is influenced by disease processes (so called autonomic neuropathy) or more subtly and commonly by sustained stress which shifts the balance towards sympathetic dominance. It is common is osteopathic practice to meet patients who feel dense and compressed – these patients typically reveal a history of sustained stress or trauma. By contrast patients in autonomic health feel spacious, transparent and internally disengaged.