Relieving RSD and Chronic Pain Naturally

Since Align Healing Center first opened our doors in 1999 we have seen a progressive increase in chronic pain and Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), now called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) in our community. RSD/CRPS is a chronic, painful, and progressive neurological condition that affects the skin, muscles, joints, and bones. The syndrome usually develops in an injured limb, such as a broken leg, or following surgery. However, many cases of RSD involve only a minor injury, such as a sprain. And in rare cases, no precipitating event can be identified.

RSD/CRPS is characterized by various degrees of burning pain, swelling, and sensitivity to heat, cold or touch. Pain may begin in one area or limb and then spread to other limbs. In some cases, symptoms of RSD/CRPS diminish and then reappear with a new injury.

Causes and Risk Factors for RSD/CRPS

An exact understanding of RSD/CRPS is not complete.  It appears to involve a complex interaction among the sensory, motor and sympathetic nervous system as well as involvement of the immune system. Currently, Western medicine is not sure what causes RSD/CRPS.  It is believed that in most cases the sympathetic nervous system plays an important role in sustaining the pain.  Another theory is that CRPS is caused by a triggering of the immune response, which leads to the characteristic inflammatory symptoms of redness, warmth, and swelling in the affected area.

Treatment Options for RSD Patients

Medical treatments for the management of RSD/CRPS include analgesics, anti-depressants, physical therapy, occupational therapy, nerve blocks, and multiple other drug therapies.

The Natural Approach for Chronic Pain and RSD/CRPS

Holistic, non-invasive treatments for RSD/CRPS offer new possibilities that patients may consider for pain and symptom management.  As with traditional treatments, holistic treatments may need to be combined for optimal results.  Natural medicine (vitamins, herbs, natural compounds, etc.) has proven to be effective and long-term in helping calm the sympathetic nervous system and reduce systemic inflammation.

At Align Healing Center we are currently seeing beneficial results in the treatment of chronic pain and RSD/CRPS. The combination of laser therapy combined with natural medicine is yielding hopeful results.

Laser therapy is the application of low levels of laser light to areas of the body that have been injured or damaged. Contrasted with high-powered lasers that cut tissue, such as surgical or hair-removal lasers, therapy lasers produce beneficial interactions that can help relieve pain and repair tissue. The absorption of the laser light by your cells increases cellular energy. In areas of injury or damage, this improves the rate and quality of healing. Studies reveal many beneficial physiological effects, including increased endorphin levels, reduced inflammatory compounds and an increased rate and quality of healing. We often have patients notice improvement after the very first treatment; whereas with chronic pain or RSD/CRPS it is realistic that it may take a few treatments. The effect of laser therapy is cumulative, meaning that each successive treatment builds on previous ones. 

Class IV Laser Therapy has exceeded our expectations of the healing potential that it ignites in the body and it is our mission to share it with anyone who is seeking freedom from their pain.

Dr. Niele Maimone, DC is the owner and founder of Align Healing Center in Danville, CA.  For more information or to set up a consult call 925.362.8283 or visit





Snoring and Pregnant? Time to get evaluated.

Pregnancy is associated with sleeping disorders such as insomnia, restless legs syndrome, habitual snoring, and excessive daytime sleepiness. OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnea) is the result of airways narrowing which leads to respiratory disruptions, intermittent hypoxia, and sleep fragmentation. It is commonly characterized by snoring, breathing cessation, and daytime sleepiness.

OSA is common in the United States and often remains undiagnosed. As pregnancy progresses, women are at risk for developing new OSA. Over 10 percent of first-trimester pregnant woman suffer from OSA, but by the third trimester, over 26 percent have been diagnosed.

Although the causes for increased occurrence of OSA during pregnancy are the result of normal physiological changes, it has also been associated with weight gain, edema, and hyperemia, all of which can cause narrowing of the upper airways. Women are therefore at risk for developing OSA prior to or during pregnancy.

In pregnant women, OSA has been associated with hypertensive disorders, gestational diabetes, and preeclampsia. Women with OSA during pregnancy have odds of in-hospital mortality five times higher than controls. These women also have a higher risk of future cardiovascular diseases. Similarly, women with preeclampsia have a significantly lower level of nighttime fetal movement. When these women use a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine to increase nighttime airflow and ease breathing, the nighttime fetal movements improved.

Five Ways to Have a Happier, Healthier Pregnancy

Being pregnant is a truly magical time. Feeling your baby move and kick as they grow steadily inside of you is absolutely the most amazing feeling ever! While growing a baby is truly a miracle, the effects on the mom’s body can sometimes be less than desirable. From nausea, sleeplessness, headaches, and back pain, all of which can come and go throughout the entirety of the nine months. Having recently been pregnant myself, I am all too familiar with these oh so unpleasant symptoms.

It’s easy to fall into the convenience of doing what is easy in the moment like eating unhealthy foods or taking painkillers for back pain. In the long run, however, if you take the time to eat well, connect with your baby, relieve stress, and keep your spine healthy you will have a much happier pregnancy.

Here are my five tips to a happier and healthier pregnancy:

  1. Eat plenty of organic fruits and vegetables. Eat the rainbow as they say (not skittles… those don’t count.) Eating lots of fruits and vegetables of all colors helps to ensure that you and your baby get all of the nutrients that you need. Yes, I am including YOU in this too! When people talk about nutrition during pregnancy they always talk about the baby. But it is incredibly important that you eat well in order to keep your energy high and reduce the chance of having diet related complications such as gestational diabetes or high blood pressure.
  2. Talk or sing to your baby. Deepening your bond with your baby by talking or singing to them will help you to have that pregnancy glow that everyone talks about. The bond between a mother and her unborn child is incredibly special and the joy that you feel will radiate out of you.
  3. Make walking a priority. I know it can sometimes be hard to feel the motivation to get moving, especially when you feel HUGE! But it can really help battle some of the most frustrating pregnancy symptoms. Believe it or not, it will give you a boost of energy from the endorphins, the vitamin D will help boost your immune system (because the last thing you want to do when you are pregnant is get sick), and it will help to minimize the swelling in your feet and ankles.
  4. Take time to yourself every day. Trust me when I say that as soon as your baby gets here, time to yourself will become nonexistent. Take 5-10 minutes, at a minimum, per day to be alone and do a guided meditation. YouTube has amazing meditations that can help you with whatever is overwhelming you in the moment. There’s a seemingly infinite amount of guided meditations for having a healthy pregnancy, easy labor, and for general relaxation. A relaxed mama is a happy mama!
  5. Get your spine checked by a chiropractor. All of the above tips are wonderful, but if you are battling back pain or headaches due to your constantly changing body, all of your daily tasks become so much harder. I know I am biased because I am a chiropractor – but I really don’t know how I would have made it through my pregnancy without getting adjusted every few weeks. Relieving the pain helped me to feel ready to take on whatever my body or my baby could throw at me.

If you are pregnant and are struggling with back pain, please don’t hesitate to call me and schedule a 15-minute complimentary consultation. I would be happy to tell you if there is anything I can do to help alleviate your pain and help your body function at a better level. It is never too early or too late in your pregnancy to get checked!

Dr. Kristin Moore, DC is a prenatal and pediatric chiropractor at Align Healing Center in Danville, CA. She offers a complimentary 15-minute consultation to the readers of ALIVE magazine. Call Dr. Kristin at (925) 362-8283 to schedule your appointment.



A Holistic Approach to Treating Sleep Apnea

Quality of life can be greatly affected by the many factors associated with obstructive sleep apnea, OSA.  Whether you’re a parent, spouse, or friend of someone with OSA, you can make a difference in the quality of their lives by being proactive.

One simple habit, mouth breathing, can have devastating effects on not only one’s health, but likewise one’s self-esteem, dental health, brain health and cognitive abilities, as well as physical fitness, especially as we age.

Mouth breathing is a signal to observe the individual while sleeping. Since this condition can be caused by an obstructed airway, notice if there is gasping, breath holding or excessive motion during sleep.

In children, symptoms like hyperactivity, irritability, obesity, poor grades, easy frustrations, tantrums, and not following directions can all be due to lack of sleep caused by airway obstruction. Recent studies show that the heart does not develop properly in children with OSA resulting in possible future heart disease at earlier ages.

In adults, morning fogginess, dependence on caffeine to awaken, depression and anxiety, drowsiness while driving or attending classes or meetings and forgetfulness are only a few of the possible symptoms of OSA.

Many of us are aware of the above information, but are you aware of the importance of a holistic approach to correcting OSA?  Historically, only a CPAP was used as treatment, and usually only on older adults.  Then dental appliances were found to be beneficial.  My experience confirms the importance of using dental appliances. I have successfully treated over 1,000 OSA cases with dental appliances, myself included.

Now findings suggest that correcting previous habits we used to compensate for airway obstruction can greatly benefit our health as well.  Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy (OMT) programs can reestablish the proper muscle activity that was lost from years of improper oral and facial posture. This treatment has been scientifically proven to correct 50% of apnea-hyperpnoea in adults and 62% in children. The children benefit even more because their faces develop in a more attractive way. When I was an orthodontist I found Oral Myology to not only greatly assist the speed of orthodontic treatment, but create a far more stable result and allow many fewer extractions, thus giving the patient a fuller smile.

At my sleep and TMJ center, AODTC, you will meet Aimee, my daughter, who is credentialed in Oral Myology. That’s just another tool we use to provide a more complete diagnosis, and just one more reason to visit!  If it turns out that you need OMT, she can help you find the right therapist.

For more about our practice, please visit or call 925-837-8048.  We are looking forward to working with you.


Winter is Coming. Be Careful to Avoid Falls

Slips and falls in the rain and snow are a major cause of painful traumas, especially in older people this time of year. The worse type of injury is the vertebral fracture. This occurs when a hard fall onto the back or buttock causes one or more of the bones of the spine to fracture and collapse. The fracture is extremely painful because unlike other fractures, it’s position deep in the body prevents it from being immobilized to allow healing and even everyday activities such as sitting up to eat a meal causes movement of the fractured bone.

If you experience a fall and have severe pain that doesn’t improve within one to two weeks and have severe back pain with any position or activity except lying down, more than likely, you have a spinal fracture. It is very important to have a physician evaluate you and order a diagnostic x-ray so that you can receive appropriate treatment in a timely manner.

The treatment for a spinal fracture depends on the severity of pain and on how much the pain limits your everyday activities. Younger adults may have a fracture, but because of good muscle tone and strength surrounding the spine, they might not have such severe pain that prevents their usual activities such as work, dressing, bathing, eating, etc. Older adults however, tend to have less muscle mass and support of the spine so that even sitting at the dinner table to eat a meal is a chore because of severe pain. In less painful fractures, wearing a tight, elastic, low back support belt can be very helpful, along with taking anti-inflammatory medications such as Advil or Aleve. These fractures may take up to six months to a year to heal naturally.

For older adults who have severe pain that prevents them from participating in their usual activities of daily living, we recommend a curative procedure called a Percutaneous Balloon Kyphoplasty. The procedure fixes the fracture by injecting cement into the bone through a thin, hollow needle. The cement is the same that is used in knee and hip replacement surgeries. It hardens immediately and the severe pain is gone immediately as well. The procedure is safe, done in the office under conscious sedation and takes one to two hours. There are no physical restrictions after the procedure and since the fracture is then fixed, there is no need for any strong pain medications.

I recommend that the procedure be done as soon as the fracture is identified if there is severe pain. If the fracture is allowed to heal on its own, it will likely heal with a deformity of the bone that causes the spine to bend forward, called kyphosis. Kyphosis can lead to long term health problems including respiratory diseases and chronic back pain. An MRI of the spine is usually ordered by the doctor to ensure that the fracture is still new enough to be fixed. Usually the MRI will show inflammation of the bone due to the fracture even six months after the fall has occurred. Once the bone heals, usually six months to a year after the fall, nothing can be done to reverse the deformity.

The best option of course is to avoid falls and injuries. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” as our friend, Benjamin Franklin, says. Wear shoes with good treading and if you need a cane or a walker, use it! Do as much safe exercise as you can to keep your back and spine strong and healthy.

Visit my website for more information:

Dr. DeLaney is the founder and medical director of Balanced Pain Management in Walnut Creek. She is board certified in both Chronic Pain Management and Anesthesiology and has published multiple papers on chronic pain management. She continues to give lectures at local and national medical meetings on Pain Management.  For more information, visit her website at or call 925-988-9333.