Animal chiropractic is a manual healthcare system where the chiropractor uses their hands to assess and treat the animal for a variety of health and performance problems.
The chiropractor will examine the animal’s spine and the joints in the extremities (legs). They will determine if they are moving within their normal range of motion. If a joint is not moving properly, the animal may feel some stiffness, pain, or tight tense muscles from where it has been compensating for the problem area (see Signs & Symptoms). The overall performance of the animal is therefore affected.
In addition, when a joint moves normally through its full range of movement, it stimulates the nerve receptors within the joint and its surrounding tissues. These receptors feed important information to the brain, and have a huge influence on the functioning of the nervous system. Reduced mobility of a joint in the spine can also affect the spinal nerves that leave the spinal cord between the vertebra (commonly called a ‘trapped nerve’).
Every movement an animal makes involves muscles firing in a highly orchestrated manner. Co-ordination of these firing patterns deteriorates when either the nerves or their receptors are unable to function to their optimum.
An adjustment is the chiropractic term for a very specific high velocity, low amplitude thrust along the plane of a joint. The joint is moved beyond its normal physiological range of movement without exceeding the boundaries of anatomical integrity.
The chiropractor will, using their hands, adjust any affected joints in order to stimulate the receptors and nerves, and to restore normal movement in the joint. The joints will then be able to move further through their normal range of motion and their receptors will be stimulated through ‘normal’ daily movements by the animal.
The adjustment is highly specific, and is how chiropractors treat - addressing neurological dysfunction, restoring joint mobility, and reducing pain and muscle tenderness. The muscles and ligaments then have the task of supporting and maintaining this new realigned position.