Chiropractic is a simply remarkable manual treatment that was developed in the 19th century. It literally means “to perform by hand”. It is used to treat neurological and musculo-skeletal dysfunction. But more importantly, while treating these dysfunctions it also helps to treat the effects of neurologic and musculo-skeletal dysfunction on the body. It literally resets and rewires the entire body. This is why in some cases, incontinence issues can be completely cured with just one chiropractic session!
Chiropractic is a form of treatment and it is also a diagnostic tool for spinal problems and biomechanical musculo-skeletal disorders. A chiropractor is extremely adept at detecting the normal range of motion and normal mobility patterns of every bone, joint and muscle in the body.
Chiropractic was commonly used to diagnose and treat human patients but has also gained a name in veterinary medicine to treat horses, dogs, cats and other animals. It can be used as an adjunct to conventional medicine by your veterinarian or by a certified animal chiropractor under supervision of your veterinarian.
A small lesson in anatomy
The spine consists of numerous small bones called vertebrae which are held in close proximity to each other by ligaments. Muscles also attach to the vertebrae giving the spine support and flexibility of movement. The vertebrae are stacked so that there is a long open canal which runs down the entire length of the body from the base of the head to the tail. This canal houses the spinal cord. Pairs of nerves leave the spinal cord through spaces between the vertebrae called inter-vertebral foramen. These nerves transmit information between the brain, spinal cord, organs, muscles and other parts of the body.
Every bone in the body is held in place by rope-like structures called ligaments which typically insert on the ends of two bones creating a joint (space between two bones). The ligaments being elastic in nature allow for minor movements of these bones in certain directions within a certain range.
An animal chiropractor while gently palpating the bones and joints can detect these very small movements as a “spring”!
When a restriction occurs due to a change in alignment of bones, the information carried by these nerves is impeded. How chiropractic works is that it resets any interference in the transmission of information needed for proper organ and tissue function.
What is a chiropractic adjustment?
In animal chiropractic, we manually adjust changes in alignment of the bones of the spine and extremities. When there is this minor displacement of a vertebrae or other bone from its natural position and it does not return back to its original position, there is a ‘misalignment” or a sub-luxation complex that is created. These are called vertebral sub-luxation complexes in the spine although the sub-luxation complexes are not necessarily only restricted to the spine. They can happen anywhere in the body including the limbs and the bones of the skull and face.
This sub-luxation complex is corrected by delivering a specific, high speed low force thrust to restore normal movement. This means that the animal chiropractor holds the patient in close proximity and by placing the hands on the affected bone, delivers a very focussed very fast but gentle thrust in a particular direction to restore normal movement of the joint.
The same procedure is performed on the limbs and other bones in the body to look for and remove restrictions and to enable free movement of the joints.
Duration and number of treatments
How many treatments will my dog or cat need? This is a frequently asked question and can only be answered based on the individual patient’s needs.. Some patients take 1-4 treatments depending on the chronicity or condition being treated. Some geriatric or sporting dogs come to me for monthly chiropractic assessments and adjustments which keep them fit and healthy.
A full chiropractic assessment can be
done in 15-20 minutes.
Conditions treated with chiropractic
- Subtle changes in movement in agility and fly ball dogs, hunting and herding dogs due to restrictions in movement of the joints.
- Spinal trauma, spondylosis, acute or chronic neck and back pain
- Tail biting, lick granuloma
- Recurrent ear infections or anal gland problems
- Organ dysfunction like digestive disorders etc (remember the spinal nerves carry information to all the organs, removing a restriction helps unimpeded flow of information)
How do patients react to chiropractic?
Animal chiropractic requires the chiropractor to be in close proximity to the patient. This is achieved by ensuring that the patient feels safe and not threatened and the chiropractor and owner are also not at risk of being bitten or scratched.
Every patient is different and the technique therefore has to be adjusted accordingly. I find that a gentle approach and technique calms the patient sufficiently to then gradually move in for closer adjustments if needed.
Yawning is a sure sign that your pet is enjoying the chiropractic session and this usually happens within a few minutes of starting the chiropractic assessment.
Some pets appear more relaxed after the session, some are “smiling” and some fall into a relaxed sleep and do not really want to leave my office!