Chiropractic Care For Your Horse

Madalyn Ward, DVM

If your horse is not working up to his potential, is stiff or reluctant to move forward you might want to consider a chiropractic work-up. Back pain, poor performance or bad attitude could be related to a chiropractic subluxation. The term "subluxation" as a chiropractic term should not be confused with the medical definition. A chiropractic subluxation is the alteration of normal dynamics, anatomical or physiological relationships of contiguous articular structures. The medical definition of subluxation is an incomplete or partial dislocation. Back pain occurs when chiropractic subluxations cause inflammation around the nerve roots as they exit the spinal cord via the small intervertebral opening. This inflammation initially causes nerves to become hyperreactive, which leads to muscle spasms, because the muscle cells are constantly being signaled to contract. If a subluxation exists for an extended period of time, however, the nerve may be permanently damaged and lose function, and without nerve stimulation the associated muscle will atrophy.Chiropractic subluxations cause interference with nerve transmission somewhat as turning the dial on a radio causes the signal to fade in and out. If your horse is not getting clear signals through his nervous system, how can he respond appropriately to your signals?

When choosing a chiropractor, it is best to find one that has completed the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association (AVCA) certification course. This course teaches a very safe, low force, high speed method of adjusting individual vertebral segments. Certified AVCA practitioners use speed and skill rather than force, to adjust. The chiropractic method I use is called network chiropractic. It addresses both type A and type B subluxations. The type A subluxation involves the fixation of any vertebral segment within it's range of motion. The segment misaligns as a result of a concussion or other physical force. There is a lack of recovery of the vertebra from the structural, mechanical or physical forces. The resultant fixation and misalignment interferes with the transmission of nerve impulses between brain cells and tissue.

The type B vertebral subluxation (facilitated subluxation) involves the spinal-meningeal functional unit (the membrane enveloping the brain and spinal cord). This unit consists of the vertebra and it's associate dural, meningeal and connective tissue attaching it to the spinal cord. In the meningeal component of subluxation, the site of origin of vertebral subluxation is within the neurological system, not the structural system.

Insults of an emotional or chemical nature cause the system to overload. The displacement of the vertebra is secondary and is an adaptive feature to reduce stress on the cord. The network approach of adjusting uses gentle contacts of a nonspecific nature made in specific areas with the intent to remove tension in the brain and the cord itself. Once the tension has been released, the natural movements of the horse will allow the vertebra to return to normal position. Many horses appear to experience stress from training and showing. Meningeal tension, which is related to emotional stress, is addressed by network chiropractic.

2002-2004 Madalyn Ward and Bear Creek Veterinary Clinic. All rights reserved. Please visit Holistic Horsekeeping for more information.
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