Healing from Chronic Pain: The Science of Neuroplasticity

I’m Peter Winslow, a health and life coach in private practice. I experienced first-hand the healing power of the human body when I recovered from the pain and symptoms of a chronic autoimmune disorder called Ankylosing Spondylitis, or AS.

It’s important to point out that the word “chronic” when applied to disease means that doctors and drugs cannot cure it. AS is considered to be “incurable” because there isn’t a medical treatment to reverse it. Yet people have recovered from this and other chronic conditions through the healing power of their own bodies. How is it possible? Neuroscientists say it happens through a phenomenon called neuroplasticity.

Webster’s dictionary defines neuroplasticity as “the ability of the brain to form and reorganize synaptic connections, especially in response to learning or experience or following injury.”

Wikipedia says:

“Neuroplasticity is an umbrella term that describes lasting change to the brain throughout an individual’s life course. The term gained prominence in the latter half of the 20th century, when new research showed that many aspects of the brain can be altered even into adulthood. This notion contrasts with the previous scientific understanding that the brain only develops during early childhood and from then on remains mostly unchanged.

Neuroplasticity can be seen at multiple levels, from changes in individual neurons to larger changes such as cortical remapping in response to injury. Behavior, environmental stimuli, thought, and emotions also cause neuroplastic change which has significant implications for healthy development, learning, memory, and recovery from illness and injury.”

So behavior, environmental stimuli, thought, and emotions cause neuroplastic changes. That is where natural recovery from chronic pain begins.

–Peter Winslow

Ankylosing Spondylitis – Symptoms and Treatment Options

Ankylosing Spondylitis pic
Ankylosing Spondylitis
Image: spondylitis.org

Life coach Peter Winslow owns GoldMind in Scottsdale, Arizona. At the wellness center, Peter Winslow focuses on life coaching, goal attainment, and self-improvement. He also helps his clients understand the mind-body connection and the implications it can have for ankylosing spondylitis and similar conditions.

Ankylosing spondylitis, a type of arthritis, causes inflammation of the many joints in the spine. In some cases, it can cause new bone growth. This forces the vertebrae to fuse together, which can lead to a permanent forward curvature of the spine known as kyphosis. For some patients, this results in a perpetually hunched-over stature.

In other cases, the pain and inflammation associated with AS can impact other parts of the body. Complications are usually limited to joints in the hips, ribs, and limbs, though the eyes, lungs, and heart can be impacted in rare cases.

There is no cure for AS, but the condition can be managed with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, TNF blockers, or IL-17 inhibitors. Physical therapy is also a crucial part of treatment, and surgical options are available in severe cases.

Overcoming AS Through Intention and Guided Imagery

Ankylosing Spondylitis pic
Ankylosing Spondylitis
Image: webmd.com

Peter Winslow is a respected Arizona life coach who guides GoldMind, LLC, and provides a host of integrated services, including transformational coaching that helps clients attain goals and find renewed purpose. Emphasizing the mind-body connection, Peter Winslow draws on personal experience in overcoming addiction, depression, and ankylosing spondylitis (AS), which culminated in a life-changing near death experience.

The life coach maintains the website helpinghealing.com, which focuses on those suffering from what many physicians describe as an “incurable disease.” Those diagnosed with AS often experience crippling stiffness and near constant pain, as well as a sense of anxiety as they are informed that their condition is likely to last for life. Things that come naturally to other people, such as maintaining relationships with friends and family members and holding down a regular job, become insurmountably difficult.

Mr. Winslow’s condition reached a point where he felt he had a stark choice to make: to kill himself or help himself. Armed with a firm commitment to reversing his pain he ultimately chose the latter. His book Heal For Real lays out simple, practical techniques of guided imagery that are nearly effortless if approached the right way. This non-medical process generates real results: Harvard researchers were able to determine that those who adhered to such an approach are able to decrease chronic pain by nearly one-third within a month, and acute pain within minutes.