Pain and the Brain

April 5th, 2019

We have all experienced pain. Usually our pain is short-lived. When pain is prolonged, it can affect our mood, relationships, and outlook.

In the 1960s, Ronald Melzack and Patrick Wall introduced the gate control theory, which is a theory of pain and pain management. Melzack and Wall proposed that a gate exists between where the pain is occurring in the body and where the pain is processed in the brain. While certain activities, thoughts, and emotions open the gate (intensify pain), other experiences close the gate (reduce pain).

Among those who experience chronic pain, the physical sensations of pain can be linked to distressing emotions (e.g., sadness, frustration) and thoughts (e.g., hopelessness, memories of the injury). This is understandable.

Discovering new ways to adapt to pain is a goal for many who suffer from chronic pain. Progressive muscle relaxation, pacing activities, and confronting thinking errors are a few gate closing strategies that we have found to be helpful for people. For further information, watch these clips about pacing ( and progressive muscle relaxation (

Guest blogger, Spencer Talbot

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One in five Canadians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime.


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