What is Chiropractic?
Chiropractic is a manual therapy that is used to prevent and treat a wide range of health and performance problems. The aim is to maintain or restore normal function of the spine and nervous system to optimise the health and well being of the patient.
Chiropractors locate and treat vertebral subluxation complexes (VSC’s). These are areas of the spine where the movement of adjacent vertebrae is restricted. They cause the horse to alter its way of moving and increase the biomechanical strain on other areas of the spine as well as the limbs. If left untreated, degenerative changes can occur and may result in stiffness, muscle tension and pain.
When this happens there is disruption to the normal blood supply to the soft tissues and inflammation develops. With the inflammatory changes and restricted mobility of the spine, the nerves emerging from the intervertebral foramen between two vertebrae become irritated. The altered and abnormal nerve signals have wide-ranging effects on the horse’s health, influencing the function of not only the nerves and muscles but also the internal organs and the immune system.
Fixed areas of the spine lead to muscle fatigue. As a result the risk of injury to the joints and tendons of the lower limbs is increased because they are protected by the co-ordinated contraction and relaxation of the muscles of the upper limb. In fact, the muscles provide 80% of the support of the joints, with only the remaining 20% coming from the joint capsule and ligaments.
Chiropractors use gentle ‘adjustments’ to treat and mobilise the restricted joints. An adjustment is a very specific, high speed but small amplitude controlled thrust directed at a particular joint by hand or instrument. Intervertebral joints, limbs and the bones of the cranium can all be treated. All chiropractic adjustments are performed in a specific direction and are within the normal range of motion of that joint.
Why should my horse have chiropractic?
Traditional veterinary treatment is carried out after an injury has occurred. Chiropractic assessment can detect problems in the early stages before clinical signs such as swelling and/or lameness occur. Prompt treatment helps to prevent more serious injury by restoring normal movement to the affected joints.
When should my horse have chiropractic?
- Before being backed. Inquisitive and playful foals often get themselves into scrapes, so it is a good idea for them to be checked over before starting work. They cannot train correctly if vertebral subluxation complexes are present
- Regular checks to growing youngsters between 3 and 6 years old maximise the opportunity to achieve skeletal symmetry when they reach maturity at 5-6 years of age
- After any fall or other trauma eg pulling back when tied up. If the horse is stiff and alters its way of moving, the horse’s brain accepts this pattern of movement as ‘normal’ after just a month. Prompt chiropractic treatment helps to restore the horse to optimum movement and function
- Routine checks of all ridden horses are recommended to detect problems in the early stages. Competition horses in particular should be examined regularly to help maintain and enhance their performance
- In pregnancy, the pelvic ligaments soften to allow delivery of the foal. Checking mares within 8 weeks of foaling helps to ensure the pelvis remains as symmetrical as possible