Animal Chiropractic is a manual therapy developed in the 19th century in the Mid-West United States by D.D. Palmer as a method of treating neurologic and musculoskeletal problems, as well as maintaining health. Chiropractic care looks at abnormal posture and movement of the spine and the effects that this has on the nervous system and whole body. The goal of chiropractic is to maximize mobility and optimize the nervous system function. This allows normal and unrestricted information exchange between the brain and all the organs.
In animal chiropractic, the veterinarian examines the mobility or motion capability of all the joints in the spine and limbs. If there is a decreased mobility found at a joint in the spine (i.e. between two vertebrae), this is termed a VSC or vertebral subluxation complex. This will cause decreased mobility of the spine and can lead to pain, muscle tension, decreased performance, spinal nerve dysfunction and organ impairment. This will then cause the dog or cat to compensate with the abnormality by changing his or her posture and thus creating further problems.
Clinical signs seen in cats and dogs with a vertebral subluxation complex may include the following:
- acute neck and/or back pain
- decreased performance
- difficulty getting up, climbing stairs or jumping
- lameness or a slow gait
- recurrent ear, digestive or anal gland problems
- abnormal sitting position
- urine and/or fecal incontinence
- lick granulomas on legs or paws
The animal chiropractor will use his or her hands and perform a very specific, high velocity, low amplitude adjustment into the abnormal joint to restore normal range of motion. This is always within the normal range of motion of the joint. Adjustments will "reboot" the nervous system to remember what is normal (just like a computer) since it uses the body's innate healing abilities. Animal chiropractic can be used to treat pain, sports injuries, musculoskeletal disorders, neurologic conditions, and internal medical dysfunctions. Often a few treatments are needed to see a positive effect, and then treatments may be administered on a maintenance schedule. Dr. Donato usually prefers that radiographs (X-rays) are taken of the spine or joint which is abnormal before safely using chiropractic as a treatment option.