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Gate Theory of Pain

Sensations of pain travel on unmyelinated nerve fibers (which get to the brain slower). Touch, vibration, temperature, and pressure travel on myelinated nerve pathways (which get to the brain faster). The brain can only process a limited amount of input at a time (like a switchboard). As a result, we can temporarily override the pain signals to the brain by using other sensory input.

Note: this is a controversial theory and is not universally accepted.

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