FAQ Chiropractic
Alternative Veterinary Medicine Centre

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Frequently Asked Questions

Chiropractic Manipulation

& Back Problems

See also: Chiropractic & www.chiropractic-vet.co.uk

If you have questions not answered here, please let us know (contact details)

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Q. Will my horse (or pony, dog, cat, donkey, goat etc.) accept the treatment?

A. Animals generally accept veterinary chiropractic manipulation very well indeed, perceiving it to be of benefit. Sometimes, when there is a great deal of pain from the back problem, the animal is understandably anxious until the treatment starts. Aversion is very rare. Relaxation is the usual response. We do not sedate patients for chiropractic treatment as, apart from the potential toxicity of the chemical used, the patient's perception of the manipulation stimulus and response to it is likely to be altered. Furthermore, we will not be able to see their responses. Sedation also deprives the body of the natural protection of normal muscle tone and responses, exposing the body to muscle, ligament, joint or bone damage. We find patients relaxing so deeply during treatment that sedation is not even considered. Our experience is that most patients willingly submit themselves to a second treatment, when offered, thus demonstrating their comfort with the process.

Q. What conditions/diseases can be helped by chiropractic manipulation?

A. There is a range of problems that can respond favourably to this technique. We have listed most of these on various pages (esp. Chiropractic - www.chiropractic-vet.co.uk). Paralysis and painful conditions such as lameness, arthritis, back pain and other back problems, nerve injury and prolapsed intervertebral disc are common applications.

Q. What sort of cost can I expect?

A. It is always difficult to compare costs across different treatments but, in general, successful treatments are very cost-effective. As many as three initial treatments may be required, to establish stability in cases that have been wrong for a long time. After this, sporadic treatments may be required, to maintain the benefit or some patients may run on indefinitely without further help. Of course, as with any form of therapy, a failed treatment appears costly, however much or little is charged! The AVMC's charges are usually time-based; detailed estimates of cost can be requested from our office (contact details).

Q. Will my insurance pay?

A. Most insurance policies allow for manipulation to be used on your animal. However, some will try to marginalise it under 'complementary or alternative treatments'. This can result in reduced benefit. This appears to the AVMC to be a travesty, since our treatment is performed by a fully-qualified vet and should be handled under general veterinary cover. Manipulation by a non-vet is legal in the UK, provided that it is recommended by your vet and overseen by your vet. Insurance cover may be valid for a non-vet, if these provisions are observed.

Q. What is the legal position regarding acupuncture for animals?

A. The relevant legislation is the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966. Manipulation can only be performed on animals by a qualified veterinary surgeon or by a non-vet, provided it has been recommended by and overseen by a vet. Mr Day is a fully-qualified vet.

Q. Will my horse (or pony, dog, cat, donkey, goat etc.) require sedation or anaesthetic?

A. Animals generally accept chiropractic very well indeed, perceiving it to be of benefit. Sometimes, when there is a great deal of pain, the animal is understandably anxious until the treatment starts. Aversion is very rare. Relaxation is the usual response. We do not sedate patients for chiropractic treatment as, apart from the potential toxicity of the chemical used, the patient's perception of the manipulation stimulus and response to it is likely to be altered. Our experience is that most patients willingly submit themselves to a second treatment, when offered, thus demonstrating their comfort with the process.

Q. Does manipulation alone do the job or is supporting therapy required?

A. At the AVMC, the chiropractic vet believes that manipulation should be delivered as part of a holistic programme, i.e. with the support of diet and environmental and lifestyle modification to encourage healing. Acupuncture, LASER, herbs or homeopathy may also be required, if there is pathology or tissue damage. In horses, as part of the holistic approach, we also take into account saddle, tack and shoeing, as these can impinge on back health. As Mr Day is a veterinary surgeon, he is able to add and integrate other therapies to a treatment, as necessary.

Q. Can faulty saddle, tack or harness cause back problems?

A. This is one of the main causes of back problems in horses. Not only can a badly fitting saddle or roller cause back pain and a back problem, it can also obstruct correction of the problem. Furthermore, if a horse is experiencing pain or discomfort from an ill-fitting saddle, he will move incorrectly, risking knock-on damage to limbs (e.g. spavin, DJD, navicular) via demonstrable mechanisms. The holistic approach provided by the AVMC embraces these phenomena.

Q. Is chiropractic manipulation relevant for head, face or tail?

A. At the AVMC, the chiropractic vet believes that the body should be examined from nose to tail and any misalignments that are found should be corrected, whether in the spine, head, face or tail. In some cases, facial and cranial misalignment, if left uncorrected, can prevent satisfactory correction of misalignments in other parts of the body.

Q. My horse's pelvis keeps 'going out'?

A. This can happen for several reasons. It may be that the associated ligaments (lumbosacral) are stretched, leading to instability. It may be that some more fundamental axial problem has remained uncorrected, e.g. lower neck, head or face. If it is due to basic instability, we have at the AVMC developed an injection technique, that can tighten the ligaments in that area, using injectable vitamins administered via hypodermic needle.

Q. Is manipulation painful?

A. We have detected no pain response in animals, during chiropractic manoeuvres. In fact, patients find it relaxing, almost instantly.

Q. Can back pain affect temperament of behaviour?

A. Constant or unremitting pain or discomfort is very likely to affect the way an animal feels about himself and his environment. It can affect interaction with people or with other animals. It can affect a horse's response to saddling or to work. A dog will often run partially 'sideways' and can show fear of approach or touch to the hindquarters. Pain and discomfort can affect demeanour and posture. Rapid changes in these aspects are often noticed, after manipulation.

Q. If a horse has difficulty in jumping, could this be due to his back?

A. Yes.

Q. If a dog cannot easily get into the car, go upstairs or jump onto his favourite furniture, could this be due to his back?

A. Yes.

Q. My horse 'hangs'. Could this be a spinal problem?

A. Certainly, one of the causes of a horse 'hanging' to one side or the other has been found to be neck misalignment. We also find that tooth problems can have an effect. In fact, there may be a link between tooth problems and spinal problems. We usually check the teeth at the same time as checking spinal, pelvic and facial alignment, as part of the holistic approach to a case.

Q. Is manipulation safe? Are there dangers?

A. The use of gentle manipulation according to well-tried guidelines is not attended by any special dangers. The method that we use is extremely gentle and runs no risk of doing damage. We even use a special form of chiropractic-type manipulation on dogs with prolapsed disc lesions. It is an essential component of our healing programme for that condition, despite the fears that some vets express about this. The AVMC does admit to a degree of caution about the safety of some of the many unqualified 'back people' out in the market place, who may or may not be sensitive to the dangers of over-enthusiastic manipulation and about those who work without the legally-required veterinary referral and supervision (Veterinary Surgeons Act).

Q. How do you move bones, especially in a large animal like a horse or cow?

A. The simple answer is "we don't". We only apply a gentle and subtle stimulus, which triggers the body to correct the misalignment. We suspect that this is the reason why the technique is so safe and apparently painless.

Q. Is there support from the 'conventional world' for this therapy?

A. Even the independent NHS watchdog, NICE (N.I.C.E. - National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence), has recognised the potential benefit from acupuncture and manipulation in the relief of human back pain (as of May 2009 - http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/health/article6368290.ece). However, many conventional vets appear to be very suspicious of the practice, to the potential detriment of many of their patients.

Q. Will manipulation do damage for my dog with a disc problem or paralysis?

A. The use of gentle manipulation according to well-tried guidelines is not attended by any special dangers. The method that we use is extremely gentle and runs no risk of doing damage. We always offer a special form of chiropractic manipulation on dogs with prolapsed disc lesions. It is an essential component of our healing programme for that condition, despite the fears that some vets express about this. Using combined and carefully-integrated acupuncture, manipulation and homeopathy, the outlook is usually good, in such cases. The AVMC does however admit to a degree of caution about the safety of some of the many unqualified 'back people' out in the market place, who may or may not be sensitive to the dangers of over-enthusiastic manipulation in such conditions and about those who work without the legally-required veterinary referral and supervision.

See also: Chiropractic & www.chiropractic-vet.co.uk

If you have questions not answered here, please let us know (contact details).

Back to main FAQ

Veterinary Chiropractic Manipulation - Chiropractic Manipulation for Animals

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