Wednesday, May. 2nd 2012

Animal chiropractic

Veterinary Alternatives May 2012 Newsletter

New Service!

I thought you all might like to hear about my chiropractic training. I won’t be fully certified until September, but can now examine the sacropelvic and thoracolumbar areas, meaning from the shoulders to the tail along the spine. I am currently offering this for free to existing patients, and doing a few minor adjustments if needed. Once my training in animal chiropractic is complete, I will offer either acupuncture OR chiropractic as part of the regular house-call fee, and charge an additional $25 if both are desired. This is because of the time involved in examining and performing both kinds of treatment. So get your free exams while you can J

I also plan to increase the cost of the initial house-call. Return visits will still cost the same, but due to the longer time involved in performing complete Chinese medical, physical, AND chiropractic examinations and determining the best course of action, I will need to add $20 to the cost of the first house-call. All existing clients currently under care will not see any change. I have not raised my rates in several years, and I find the time involved in those first house-calls, which are usually at least an hour, justifies the additional cost.


Animal Chiropractic

So what IS animal chiropractic? First, the reason for the name animal chiropractic instead of veterinary chiropractic is to indicate that both veterinarians AND chiropractors may receive training in this modality. Since chiropractors are not allowed to practice “veterinary” procedures, this is indicated by using “animal” instead. Chiropractic means “hand treatment” or “hand practice”. True chiropractic does not involve medications or surgery, and diagnosis and treatment are strictly hands-on without instruments.

Why chiropractic? The spinal cord and brain (the central nervous system) control ALL functions of the body. Without a nervous system, you would not function. Damage or decreased function of nerves can affect any part of the body from movement to digestion to reproductive function to the immune system. A chiropractic ADJUSTMENT is a low amplitude, high velocity, short lever movement applied to a specific part of a joint in a specific direction in order to relieve “encroachment” of surrounding tissues on a nerve. This encroachment or impingement is NOT caused by a “bone out of place” but rather a joint that has become unable to move correctly. This causes swelling of the surrounding soft tissues due to inflammation. It is this swelling that affects the function of the nerves running through the area due to changes in blood supply, edema, toxins released by damaged tissues, etc. When this “stuckage” (highly technical term, there ) is relieved, nerve function can be regained according to the body’s capacity to heal. So chiropractic care can remove obstacles to healing. It is then up to the body to continue the healing process as far as it is able depending on its age, nutrition, tissue health, and other factors. Interestingly, 80% of the INPUT to the central nervous system comes from nerve receptors IN MUSCLES, so poor movement can affect how the nervous system operates. Regular chiropractic care can ensure the “motion units” (joints) in the body move as correctly as possible to maximize good input to your brain and spinal cord.


It is important to understand several things.

1. For someone to do chiropractic on animals, they MUST receive training in animal anatomy. Their bone structure, anatomy, and biomechanics are very different from two-legged humans. Therefore, a regular chiropractor that has not received this training should NOT treat animals.

2. Likewise, a veterinarian should also not do chiropractic without this specific training. I can vouch for the fact that in veterinary school we do not learn details such as the angles of the joints in the spine and how they differ by region of the spine. You MUST know this before doing chiropractic adjustments because if you apply the force at the improper angle you will do more harm than good.

3. Manipulation is long-lever, low velocity movement of joints. It is not the same as an adjustment. Massage, physical therapy, and osteopathy typically use this type of tissue work. Nothing wrong with it when done correctly, but it is not chiropractic.

4. Likewise, there are certain people who refer to themselves as “chiropractitioners”. They are NOT animal chiropractors. Their “technique” is to stimulate EVERY bone in the spine several times using a spring-loaded device. This is NOT the same as the highly technical “activator” technique used by some chiropractors. These people, many of whom have little or no college education let alone veterinary or chiropractic degrees, are trained by a person who had their veterinary license stripped and NOT reinstated after a probationary period. BEWARE! If you are choosing a chiropractor for your pet, look for one certified by the IVCA and/or AVCA to be confident they are using proper technique. I plan to seek certification by both. You must pass both a written and practical exam to be certified by either agency, receive 30 hours of continuing education every 3 years, and recertify periodically. This certification is proof of proper training.

5. Many problems with the movement of joints are caused by normal everyday activities. You may “throw your back out” doing something as ordinary as rolling over in bed. Trauma is not required. When a joint gets stuck, other joints around it become extra mobile to try to compensate for the movement issues that arise. This “hypermobility” can then cause damage to the joints that are being overused. Often, arthritis is NOT caused in the stuck joint, but in surrounding ones. Relieving the stuck joint before this occurs is obviously wise.

6. Animals are very good at hiding compromise. They have four legs, so if one isn’t moving correctly, they have three others to move differently in order to appear normal, and sometimes they switch around. Performance animals in particular will work hard to do what we ask of them even if they hurt. If your animal regularly does strenuous activities (agility, flyball, discdog, dock diving, horse events) it should receive regular visits with an animal chiropractor to maintain normal function and catch problems before they become serious.

7. Chiropractic, like acupuncture, is not a faith-based medicine. Both modalities work well together to remove impediments to healing and allow the body to do what it knows best—heal. Neither you nor your pet need to “believe” in order to receive benefits. Now that I see my chiropractor about twice a month (I screw up my body a lot…), I see vastly fewer headaches, illnesses, digestive upset, and painful conditions than I used to.


I hope this has answered some of your questions about how chiropractic works. I will continue to learn more through the coming months, and will be gaining experience by offering this therapy free during my learning process. But sorry, folks, I haven’t learned all those joint angles on people—you’ll have to see a regular chiropractor for yourself!


Now get those pets out there and get them moving—send some input to their nervous systems!


By the way, if any of you had issues accessing my website lately, I apologize. I am working with my webmasters to resolve this issue as I write this, and it should be fixed by the time I send this out.

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