Chiropractic and Osteopathic Care
What is it?
Chiropractic care is the use of manual adjustments to realign the joints of the spine and limbs. The benefits of chiropractic care in animals first became widely recognized in athletic circles (such as on racetracks and in canine agility venues), where it showed great efficacy in improving performance and resolving many of the early gait abnormalities that could lead to injury. Nowadays, it is used to improve quality of life in animals of all types and in all walks of life. Osteopathy is a technique that uses subtle manual manipulations to address distortions in bone and fascia and thereby promote balance in the tissues of the body. (And yes, bunnies love chiropractic work!)
How does it work and why is it helpful?
Both chiropractic and osteopathic modalities use manual palpation to identify areas of restriction in the body. These restrictions prevent optimal blood and fluid flow, interfere with the normal fluidity of musculoskeletal function, and negatively affect the all important neurological signaling to the tissues of the body that would ideally optimize their function. In some cases, the disruption is great enough to cause pain. In our clinic, gentle techniques from both therapies are used to restore mobility, release tension and adhesions, and improve alignment. Both chiropractic and osteopathy improve nerve function, help in the management of musculoskeletal issues, optimize movement, and improve and whole-organism well-being.
Who can benefit from it?
All animals benefit from having an optimized nervous system, aligned skeletal structure, and an appropriately resilient fascial system. For this reason, chiropractic and osteopathic techniques are used for almost all patients, especially in the initial appointments, as we seek how best to support them. However, there are some patient groups who are predictably especially well-served by chiropractic/osteopathic support: athletes, rescue dogs with physical hardships, patients with back or neck pain, and young animals who seem awkward or off-balance. - Almost every athlete we see, including competitive athletes like agility and frisbee dogs as well as high intensity companion dogs and conformation show dogs, benefits greatly in their spinal function and movement from chiropractic. Regular chiropractic care helps decrease the risk of limb and intervertebral disc injuries. - Rescue dogs have often survived physical hardships that leave a mark on their bodies. Sometimes these are easily detectable, like scars or old fractures which are not amenable to change, but there is often a hidden landscape of dysfunctions in the spinal joints, peripheral nervous system, and fascia. These dysfunctions actually can be addressed, restoring function and comfort. Chiropractic/osteopathic treatment is often a big step towards finding their healthiest self. - Patients with back and neck pain, including intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), benefit tremendously. The techniques used in our clinic are incredibly gentle and safe and have been instrumental in helping many patients with intractable back pain or disc disease, often though not always with acupuncture support. - Young animals who seem awkward, out of balance, or weak. Chiropractic imbalances can happen at any age, and misalignment of joints at any early age can set animals up for a lifetime of learned imbalance and compensation at best, and arthritis caused by joint misalignment during development at worst. Chiropractic evaluations can be done as early as 8-12 weeks of age, and are optimally repeated every 2-3 months during the first year of life in animals who encounter significant physical stresses (climbing gates, falling, playing with larger dogs who aren’t appropriately gentle, playing on floors with poor traction like wood and linoleum, etc.)
What should I expect?
An initial chiropractic appointment is 30 minutes and should be followed by a recheck 2-4 weeks later. Recheck or maintenance chiropractic appointments are 15-30 minutes, depending on the complexity of the case. If your pet develops new symptoms or has other issues you’d like to discuss, please schedule a 30 minute recheck so we can accommodate you without upsetting our schedule. Athletes, back pain patients, and those with complex chiropractic issues typically benefit from chiropractic/osteopathic support every 1-3 months, depending on the case. Yearly chiropractic evaluations are recommended for all patients. Some patients feel better immediately after chiropractic. Occasionally patients will feel sore before they feel better, especially if there is concurrent orthopedic disease or if the chiropractic issue was very chronic. All patients are advised to stay relatively quiet for 24 hours after an adjustment while the central nervous system recalibrates to the improved nerve communication.