The Institute for the Study and Treatment of Pain

iSTOP's role is transitioning to

UBC Gunn IMS Program – Faculty of Medicine
University of British Columbia

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Dr. Gunn often quotes this publication to highlight “Cannon’s Law”

Cannon's Law:

Normal nerve and muscle depend upon intact innervation to provide regulatory or "trophic" effect. It has been shown that any measure which blocks the flow of motor impulses and deprives the effector organ of excitatory input for a period of time can cause "disuse supersensitivity" in that organ, as well as in associated spinal reflexes. Supersensitive nerves and innervated structures react abnormally to stimuli according to Cannon and Rosenbleuth's law of denervation:

"When a unit is destroyed, in a series of efferent neurons, an increased irritability to chemical agents develops in the isolated structure of structures, the effect being maximal in the part directly denervated."

That means, when a nerve is functioning below par and is not functioning properly (neuropathy), it becomes supersensitive and behaves erratically. This principle is fundamental and universal, yet is not well-known or credited. Peripheral neuropathy parallels the aging process, most intense at the weight-bearing and mobility areas of the body. 

The Supersensitivity Of Denervated Structures: A Law Of Denervation
Experimental Biology Monographs

Walter Bradford Cannon - wiki
Arturo Rosenblueth


1949 - A34050 Macmillan Company
43364767 - Online Computer Library Center, Inc.

2013 - Published by Literary Licensing, LLC, United States

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Stanford University Library

10: 1258567202  
13: 9781258567200

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This publication is available for educational purposes


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REF: iSTOP Legacy Website 

Publications in which Dr. Gunn cites "Cannon's Law"

PAIN: A Comprehensive Definition

Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS) - The Technique

Neuropathic Myofascial Pain Syndromes

"Prespondylosis" and some Pain Syndromes Following Denervation Supersensitivity

Radiculopathic Pain: Diagnosis And Treatment Of Segmental Irritation or Sensitization

Citations - Cannon's Law
 Author(s)  Title  Keywords  DOI / ISBN  Download    
Gunn, C. Chan

The Gunn Approach to the Treatment of Chronic Pain - Intramuscular Stimulation for Myofascial Pain of Radiculopathic Origin

Denervation & Cannon's Law 9780443054228
PDF Download
1989-2007 iSTOP Publications

Ganzel, Morris, Wethington

Allostasis and the Human Brain:

Integrating Models of Stress From the Social and Life Sciences

Walter Cannon and Homeostasis

general adaptation syndrome (GAS)

Three stressor stages

alarm stage



neurotransmitters and neurohormones


PDF Download
2010 ResearchGate

Heather Tick, M.A. M.D. and Eric B. Schoomaker, MD, PhD, 

Richard H. Carmona and Mark Liponis

Chapter 21: Transforming Pain Management Through the Integration of Complementary and Conventional Care

Book: Integrative Preventive Medicine

Peripheral and central sensitization can be co-occurrent, Cannon's work overlooked in current conversations about sensitization.
pg 501


9780190241254 019024125X

Oxford University Press



Google Books


F. R. Hunter

Book Review: The Supersensitivity of Denervated Structures by W. B. Cannon, A. Rosenbleuth

theories and implications of this "law of denervation"

Vol. 20, No. 3 (Oct., 1949), pp. 200-202 (3 pages)

Beta Biological Society


By request

educational use


Mullins, Jennifer F; Nitz, Arthur J; Hoch, Matthew C

The Effect of Dry Needling on Patient Reported Outcomes in Individuals with Chronic Ankle Instability: A Critically Appraised Topic

Human Kinetics Journals. Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Kentucky, Lexington, K 10.1123/ijatt.2018-0075  HKJ  2019  
Mullins, Jennifer F; Hoch, Matthew C; Nitz, Arthur J

Novel Application of Dry Needling for Neuropathic Myofascial Ankle Pain and Dysfunction Following Insidious Integumentary Infection: A Case Report

Elsevier 10.1016/j.jbmt.2019.10.017  JBMT  2019  


iSTOP's role is transitioning to
UBC Gunn IMS Program – Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia
For further information and inquiries please visit:

Our gratitude goes out to all iSTOP legacy members and public donors since 1994.

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