Why do we instinctually shake our hands when we hurt them, like when we punch something?

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Why do we instinctually shake our hands when we hurt them, like when we punch something?

In: Biology

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Okay. So when you hurt your hand, nerves send signals to your brain that somethings wrong. We perceive that as pain. When we flail our hands, your nerves feel more stimuli, drawing the affects of pain away from your brain. To dumb it down even more. Shaking your hands is essentially **masking** the pain with more nerves sending signals.

The nerves that detect pressure in your skin/muscles are almost right on top of the nerves that detect pain. Shaking your hand is almost like squeezing your thumb when it gets hurt. The pressure signal somewhat blocks/ drowns out the pain signal.

But I think as others have said, your brain can really only process so much at once, and unconsciously decides what it focuses on. For example, if your brush your tongue most people will feel a gag reflex. But if you do literally anything on top of brushing your tongue, you might notice less of the gag reflex. I heard pinching your arm is enough. I tap my foot to a beat or drum my fingers, but almost anything can have the effect.

This is the [gate control theory of pain](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gate_control_theory), which is basically that you can only feel so much at one time. If you hurt your hand, shaking it or squeezing it adds a new sensation to the pain, so some of that pain may get ignored to make room.

People tend to prefer small pain + shaking/squeezing over big pain.

Gate control theory. The simplest I’ve heard this explained is that one big fish swimming through a channel is very noticeable. A lot of small fish swimming through the channel with the big fish make it less noticeable.

Increases nerve signal decay; thus reducing pain feeling from original pain signals of nerve.