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June 22, 2021 2 min read

TRICKING THE BRAIN NOT TO PERCEIVE PAIN — Pain Relief Modalities Utilizing the Gate-Control Theory 

 
 
Science has found a way to trick the brain not to perceive pain. There are areas in the pain track where pain signals can be modified or even blocked. A “gate” system either lets the pain signal gets through or blocks it from going to the brain. 

The most commonly studied pain modulation theory is The Gate-Control Theory of Ronald Melzack and Patrick Wall... 

When you touch a hot object, sensory receptors in your skin send signals via the small nerve fibers, A-delta and C nerve fibers, to the spinal cord and then onto the brain where the pain sensation is received. These messages are processed in the brain and the pain is perceived. The gate theory states that as these pain signals come into the spinal cord, they can be modified or even blocked out even before getting to the brain. Stimulation of the largediameter nerve fibers, the A-beta fibers, by non-painful stimulus can close the pain gate and so block signals from the smaller diameter nerve fibers which transmit pain. Such non-painful stimulus can be in the form of mechanical vibration, the mechanism by which the idea of percussive vibration therapy through massage guns as pain relief modality came to life. 

Recovapro Vibration Therapy and The Gate Control Theory 

The analgesic effect of vibration therapy through the "gate control" theory can modulate pain intensity in two ways. 

  • First, the non-painful mechanical vibratory stimulus can activate the large A-beta nerve fiber, which inhibits the pain signals coming from the smaller A-delta and C nociceptive fibers, thereby, reducing or blocking pain. The signals transmitted by these nerve fibers fight against each other at an area within the spinal cord, known as substantia gelatinosa and dorsal horn, so that only the predominant stimulus is transmitted to secondary neurons that ascend to the brain via a pathway known as the spinothalamic tract. Similar to rubbing away the pain when your knee hits a hard object, vibration applied during a painful stimulus can blunt or block pain impulses with large fiber signals that "close the gate" so that less or no pain signals ever reach the brain. 
  • Second, vibration can provide a distraction from the pain. According to the authors of the gatecontrol theory, the gating mechanism may be influenced by memory and attention. Hence, attending to the painful stimulus increases pain, while attending to a nonpainful stimulus reduces pain. 

Other pain treatment modalities that can "close the gate" include: 

  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) 
  • Massage 
  • Acupuncture 
  • Hot and cold therapies 
  • Topical ointments 

The Takeaway: 

While pain is part of our daily lives, don’t let it stop you from enjoying life. When a muscle ache is bothering you with your daily tasks, trick your brain not to feel pain. Try Recovapro!!!