Chiropractors have been adjusting the joints of animals “almost from its inception” over a 120 years ago.(1) In recent decades chiropractors and veterinarians are collaborating to investigate and develop a chiropractic model.(2) There has been recorded skepticism on whether manipulation of joints is efficacious, and that an explanation for perceived results could be solely due to a placebo effect.3 In 2008, Ramey stated that “there’s no evidence whatsoever that animals can benefit from, or even experience, placebo effects. Indeed when doctors claim effectiveness for a treatment beyond the evidence in the belief that they are doing the patient a favor by inducing a ‘placebo effect’ to the animal’s supposed benefit, they are abusing three trusted roles: expert, authority figure, and comforter. Animals deserve better.”(3) Currently, the demand for this form of animal health care is rapidly expanding, in the USA by 2010 there were reported to be over 3,400 licensed veterinarians and 4,400 licensed chiropractors professionally trained to administer chiropractic spinal adjustments to animals.(4) As early as 1992 the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) implemented guidelines addressing chiropractic care of horses. In 1998, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) then recognized chiropractic as a valid modality of treatment and further developed guidelines for the practice of animal chiropractic in the veterinary field. The AAEP guideline read: “Veterinary chiropractic should be considered a medical act and should be performed by a licensed veterinarian or a licensed chiropractor...” It further stated that, “Chiropractic is a valuable treatment for horses, especially as clients were becoming more demanding of their horses and more aware of subtle lameness problems.” This implies professional recognition that manipulative therapies attain results that would not have otherwise been achieved under traditional veterinary equine care.(5) Not only is the term chiropractic ubiquitously used when describing the act of animal joint manipulation but the extension of animal chiropractic in the veterinary profession has adopted other chiropractic terms as adjustment and subluxation. The American Holistic Veterinarian Medical Association also cites chiropractic references and adjusting instruments. A number of the members are veterinarians to start with; however, their association acknowledges the chiropractic profession as a major contribution to this science.(6)
Publication scientific of research on animal chiropractic is limited. A majority of the animal chiropractic literature is anecdotal. In addition, “There have been many favorable articles in the lay literature describing the value of chiropractic care for animals, but scientific publications have been sparse.”(7) In 2010, Haussler stated that “All forms of manual therapy have variable reported levels of effectiveness for treating musculoskeletal issues in humans, but mostly only anecdotal evidence exists in horses.” He also stated that “Currently, there is limited evidence supporting the effectiveness of spinal mobilization and manipulation in reducing pain and muscle hypertonicity.”(8) In 1999, Haussler had stated, “Chiropractic provides additional diagnostic and therapeutic means that may help equine practitioners to identify and treat the primary cause of lameness or poor performance. Specialized training in the evaluation and treatment of vertebral joint dysfunction and neuromusculoskeletal disorders places chiropractic in the forefront of conservative treatment of spinal-related disorders. Nevertheless, limited research is currently available on equine chiropractic and other non-traditional modalities in veterinary medicine.”(9,11) In 2008, Gomez Alvarez and colleagues stated that in relation to back pain and spinal mobility in horse “little scientific work had been reported on the subject.” Their study revealed “Chiropractic manipulations elicit slight but significant changes in thoracolumbar and pelvic kinematics.”(10)
The need for further objective scientific investigation of animal chiropractic that proves or refutes its use when applied to a variety of species, conditions, and/or manipulative strategies is required for advancement of the profession.
To further scientific knowledge on this subject, this institute has decided to conduct a case series. A case series is a combination of individual cases analyzed together to reinforce testing of the hypothesis. Due to the highly variable and difficult nature of objectively studying animals, chiropractic, and the measures for which to test them with; a case series was the most reliable option.
- Ramey D, Keating J, Imrie R, Bowles D. Claims for veterinary chiropractic unjustified. [Letter] Can Vet J. 2000;41;69. Rome, Peter
- Taylor LL, Romano L. Veterinary chiropractic. Can Vet J. 1999;40:732-5.
- Ramey D. Is there a placebo effect for animals. Science-based medicine. 2008 Oct 25th. www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/…/is-therea- placebo-effect-for-animals/.
- Inman WL. Animal adjusting comes of age. www.chiroeco.com/ chiropractic/…/animal-adjusting-comes-of-age/.
- Harman JC. Equine chiropractics: dispelling the myths. www.equestrianarts.org/...Horse%20Health/.../Equine%20 Chiropractics%20- %20Dispelling%20the%20Myths.pdf Circa 1998.
- American Holistic Veterinary Medical Assoc. What is holistic medicine? http://www.ahvma.org/.
- Powell A. Research on animal chiropractic. www.animalchiropractic. us/chiropractic-research/researchpapers Feb 23, 2010.
- Haussler KK. The role of manual therapies in equine pain management. Vet Clin North Am Equine Prac. 2010;26(3):579-601.
- Haussler KK. Back problems. Chiropractic evaluation and management. Vet Clin North Am Equine Pract 1999;15(1):196-209.
- Gomez Alvarez CB, L’Ami JJ, Moffatt D, Back W, van Weeren PR. Effect of chiropractic manipulations on the kinematics of back and limbs in horses with clinically diagnosed back problems. Equine Vet J 2008;40(2):153-9.
- By Kevin Haussler, DVM, DC, Ph.D. "American Association of Equine Practitioners." American Association of Equine Practitioners. American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP), n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2016.
Signs & Symptoms that your animal may be an ideal candidate for the MACARI-7 research study:
- abnormal posture and postural changes
- signs of pain when performing specific movements
- decreased range of motion
- areas of the coat that feel hot along the head, neck, & back ("hot spots")
- neck pain
- back pain
- extremity pain
- difficulty eating
- jaw pain
- muscular atrophy
- sensitivity to touch
- neurological problems
- behavioral changes
- performance issues
- difficulty with gait(s)/ abnormal gait(s)
- shortened stride in one or more legs
- pinning ears when saddled
- head tossing
- tail swishing
- lick granuloma
- inability to climb stairs or jump
- reluctance to move
- lies only on one side
- altered sitting position ("puppy sitting")
- and more
*Although your animal may or may not experience any symptoms of spinal or joint dysfunction, a wellness check may help to prevent any problems that could arise in the future.
WHAT IS ANIMAL CHIROPRACTIC?
*Chiropractic utilizes gentle and safe adjustments done by the hands to help correct mechanical problems, relieve muscle and nerve dysfunction, restore correct bio-mechanics, and alleviate pain. Animals needing care often present with pain, postural changes, and ultimately other compensatory issues if the problem is not resolved.
*Chiropractic can also help to treat other health problems. For example, each spinal nerve can influence a specific organ, and therefore treatment may help improve organ function by improving the spinal area related to that nerve. Research suggests that adjustments may improve cardiovascular, respiratory, gastrointestinal disorders, and more.
*The goal of chiropractic is to correct spinal and joint hypomobility and misalignment to ultimately improve nerve function to the rest of the body.
*Chiropractic does not replace traditional veterinary medicine or surgery, but provides an alternative method of care for your animal. Chiropractic is intended to be used in conjunction with veterinary care to provide an additional means of of treatment and diagnosis for spinal problems as well as bio-mechanical related musculoskeletal disorders.