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Asked by brian654 - 5 years ago
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Richard Level 78 / Retired Dentist
Answered 4 years ago
Pain messages don't travel directly from your pain receptors to your brain. When pain messages reach your spinal cord, they meet up with specialized nerve cells that act as gatekeepers, which filter the pain messages on their way to your brain. For severe pain that's linked to bodily harm, such as when you touch a hot stove, the "gate" is wide open, and the messages take an express route to your brain. Weak pain messages, however, may be filtered or blocked out by the gate.

Nerve fibers that transmit touch also affect gatekeeper cells. This explains why rubbing a sore area — such as the site of a stubbed toe — makes it feel better. The signals of touch from the rubbing actually decrease the transmission of pain signals.

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