The Gate Theory of Pain

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First proposed in 1965 by Ronald Metzack and Patrick Wall, the theory describes how nonpainful sensations can override or reduce painful sensations.

If you bang your elbow on the counter, the most common reaction is to rub it. Why does this work? The gate theory asserts that activation of nerves that DO NOT transmit pain; for example – touch, pressure, or vibration signals, can interfere with signals from pain fibers, partly or completely closing the gate before this signal is propagated to the brain for interpretation.