How Gate Control Theory of Pain Can Help You

As a chiropractor here in Franklin, TN, it is my goal to help alleviate pain for my patients. How I do that is largely based on one theory albeit there can be other factors involved. That theory is known as Gate Control Theory. Basically what the theory states is that chronic type of pain is transmitted along small C fibers and proprioception (awareness of where a body part is in space and time) are transmitted along A fibers. The A fibers are much larger in diameter compared to the C fibers and therefore take precedence in signalling over the C fibers. So if the A fibers are firing at a higher rate than the C fibers, then the gate is closed on the chronic pain message in favor of the proprioceptive message.

What does all that mean for you as a patient? It’s simple, if we can get the A fibers firing at a higher rate, it shuts down your pain on the C fibers. Now there are multiple ways but I will discuss 2 ways to do this for the prupose of this article as the other methods will closely relate to these. First I will cover the less preferred method and then follow it with the more preferred method.

The first method is to use electrical stimulation to send a signal at the same frequency as the A fibers transmit as with a TENS stimulation. This works for pain control but does nothing to treat the cause, so the pain will return after the stimulation has ceased.

The next method, and more preferred due to it’s more lasting effects, is to improve the brain/body connection. This can be done in several ways: movement, exercise to increase tone, and chiropractic care in particular DNFT adjustments which specially analyze each tissue separately and restore messaging in the proper direction. This allows for increased A fiber firing and shuts the gate on the pain message traveling on the C fibers and at the same time treating the root cause of the pain.

To Summarize chronic pain can be managed without drugs by improving messaging between the brain and body through Directional Non-Force Technique chiropractic care and rehabilitative exercises to improve neurological tone.