### Abstract

The first test which any theory of pain must pass is that it must be able to explain the phenomena observed in acute pain in humans. This criterion is used to test the major theory of pain at present, the gate control theory of Melzack & Wall (1965, 1982). The theory is explicit enough to be cast in mathematical terms, and the mathematical model is shown to explain the observations considered. It also points up a common misconception on the consequences of the theory, and thus demolishes an argument which has been used against it. A hypothesis of the origin of rhythmic pain is then made, and consequent testable predictions given. This is the first time that the gate control theory has been used to explain any quality of pain. It has important consequences for the treatment of such pain. Finally, the applicability of the gate control theory as an explanation for chronic pain is discussed.

Original language | English |
---|---|

Pages (from-to) | 91-105 |

Number of pages | 15 |

Journal | Journal of Theoretical Biology |

Volume | 137 |

Issue number | 1 |

Publication status | Published - 7 Mar 1989 |

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### Keywords

- Humans
- Mathematics
- Models, Neurological
- Pain

### Cite this

*Journal of Theoretical Biology*,

*137*(1), 91-105.

**A mathematical model of the gate control theory of pain.** / Britton, N F; Skevington, S M.

Research output: Contribution to journal › Article

*Journal of Theoretical Biology*, vol. 137, no. 1, pp. 91-105.

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - A mathematical model of the gate control theory of pain

AU - Britton, N F

AU - Skevington, S M

PY - 1989/3/7

Y1 - 1989/3/7

N2 - The first test which any theory of pain must pass is that it must be able to explain the phenomena observed in acute pain in humans. This criterion is used to test the major theory of pain at present, the gate control theory of Melzack & Wall (1965, 1982). The theory is explicit enough to be cast in mathematical terms, and the mathematical model is shown to explain the observations considered. It also points up a common misconception on the consequences of the theory, and thus demolishes an argument which has been used against it. A hypothesis of the origin of rhythmic pain is then made, and consequent testable predictions given. This is the first time that the gate control theory has been used to explain any quality of pain. It has important consequences for the treatment of such pain. Finally, the applicability of the gate control theory as an explanation for chronic pain is discussed.

AB - The first test which any theory of pain must pass is that it must be able to explain the phenomena observed in acute pain in humans. This criterion is used to test the major theory of pain at present, the gate control theory of Melzack & Wall (1965, 1982). The theory is explicit enough to be cast in mathematical terms, and the mathematical model is shown to explain the observations considered. It also points up a common misconception on the consequences of the theory, and thus demolishes an argument which has been used against it. A hypothesis of the origin of rhythmic pain is then made, and consequent testable predictions given. This is the first time that the gate control theory has been used to explain any quality of pain. It has important consequences for the treatment of such pain. Finally, the applicability of the gate control theory as an explanation for chronic pain is discussed.

KW - Humans

KW - Mathematics

KW - Models, Neurological

KW - Pain

M3 - Article

VL - 137

SP - 91

EP - 105

JO - Journal of Theoretical Biology

JF - Journal of Theoretical Biology

SN - 0022-5193

IS - 1

ER -