Background: Hypotheses on somatovisceral dysfunction often assume interference by stretch or compression of the nerve supply to visceral structures. The purpose of this study is to examine the potential of pelvic visceral movement to create tension of the loose connective tissue that contains the fine branches of the inferior hypogastric nerve plexus.
Methods: Twenty eight embalmed human cadavers were examined. Pelvic visceral structures were displaced by 5 N unidirectional tension and the associated movement of the endopelvic fascia containing the inferior hypogastric plexus that this caused was measured.
Results: Most movement of the fascia containing the inferior hypogastric plexus was obtained by pulling the rectosigmoid junction or broad ligament of the uterus. The plexus did not cross any vertebral joints and the fascia containing it did not move on pulling the hypogastric nerve.
Conclusions: Uterine and rectosigmoid displacement produce most movement of the fascia containing the hypogastric nerve plexus, potentially resulting in nerve tension. In the living this might occur as a consequence of menstruation, pregnancy or constipation. This may be relevant to somatovisceral reflex theories of the effects of manual therapy on visceral conditions.
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