Veterinary Chiropractic Medicine

What is Veterinary Chiropractic Medicine?

Veterinary Chiropractic medicine is a therapeutic technique that focuses on restoring normal movement to the spinal column. It is an extremely useful tool for addressing lameness due to neck & back pain, as well as, medical issues that are typically not thought of as being a chiropractic problem.

The premise behind Chiropractic Medicine is that the body has an ‘innate intelligence’. Above all, the body has the means and wants to heal itself and maintain a state of health. Every joint in the body should move freely. This includes the spinal column, every vertebra should move easily against the next. The term subluxation is applied to a joint or vertebra that is ‘stuck’ and unable to move freely. Subluxations (stuck vertebrae) then cause increased muscle tension locally, sensitivity to pressure, limited and painful motions and changes in posture. Change in posture will eventually lead to a change in gait and muscle changes. Muscles and nerves have a memory and over time chronic subluxations will cause nerve impulses to fire with minimal stimulation, basically nerves and muscles become tight and hypersensitive.

Keep in mind that nerves originating in the spinal cord go to the limbs and internal organs. There is a reciprocal effect between the organs and the spine. For example, a dog with chronic lower back subluxations, over time, may experience issues of incontinence or bladder problems. The opposite is also true, for example a dog with kidney stones will, over time, have subluxations and pain in the upper lumbar spine.

Subluxation or lack of joint motion also has many affects on the joint itself. The cartilage (cushion) in the joint becomes thin and brittle; it will develop holes and eventually become calcified. Joint fluid (which nourishes the joint) will lose protective proteins and arthritis will occur. SNOWBALL EFFECT!

Veterinary Chiropractors assess the movement in each joint and vertebrae and establish where the subluxations are. The affected joint or vertebrae is brought into ‘tension’ and a gentle thrust in the correct direction frees up joint mobility, this is called an adjustment. One of the things I love about doing Chiropractic Medicine is the immediate change the animal experiences. After the adjustment your canine-friend or feline-friend will experience improved mobility, decreased muscle tenderness, decreased swelling and improved nerve function. The adjustment also causes a release of endorphins, which have both pain relieving and relaxing properties. Needless to say it doesn’t take many visits before our fuzzy companions figure out Chiropractic adjustments feel really good.

Possible indicators of subluxated joints or vertebrae:

You get the idea; these are just a few of the indicators that your animal companion may benefit from a chiropractic assessment.

Dogs with neck or back pain may have a lower head carriage or front leg lameness, decreased range of motion in the neck or back and be unable to do the ‘whole body shake’ that dogs so often do. You can see them try, they will start the shake and then stop short thinking “nope that’s going to hurt” and stop. Immediately after the adjustment the head is held at a more normal angle. They have less muscle reactivity in the neck and they are able to shake from head to tail. That immediate improvement is so gratifying and one of the reasons I love Chiropractic Medicine.

Longer-term changes include reversal of arthritis (as long as it is not too far progressed); improved muscle function, improved health and organ function and improved immune function. Chiropractic adjustments may be needed more frequently to start (that muscle memory I mentioned earlier), as muscles need to be retrained. If the problem is longstanding chiropractic adjustments may be indicated weekly or every other week. Once improvement is seen often the frequency of chiropractic visits is decreased to once monthly or just as needed. Routine exercises are helpful to retrain those muscles and limit subluxations.

Veterinary Chiropractic Medicine, Courtenay, Comox, CumberlandMy cat Max was displaying very odd behaviour. He would begin looking at his back feet, start to growl, then dive through his front feet in a kind of somersault and attack his own back feet. Max would bite himself so hard he would cry out in pain. I was very worried but couldn’t get a diagnosis from my vet. The only treatment that was recommended was to put him on an anti-anxiety medication essentially sedating him.

I took Max to Dr. Matheson and after a thorough examination, she explained what was happening. Max had a badly misaligned lower back, pelvis and sacrum. He was likely feeling either sharp pains (similar to a sciatica pain) or a tingling sensation and didn’t know where it was coming from.

After just two chiropractic adjustments Max is a much happier cat! He is no longer attacking his feet and his somersaults have stopped.

I highly recommend Dr Matheson and her wonderful staff at Balanced Paws.

- Lisa Wood