Veterinary chiropractors diagnose and treats loss of normal range of motion in joints, particularly in the spine. Diagnosis is made by assessing each joint's range of motion and the joints which have reduced motion ie appear "stiff", are treated individually. An assessment is made of the range of motion of all the joints in the spine and pelvis and the limbs as necessary.
When there is reduced motion or a "fixation" in the spinal column, this affects the motion of the individual joint, all the muscles and tissues around it. This causes pain, muscle spasms and stiffness. The spinal cord passes through the middle of the vertebrae, sending out nerves at each joint. An area of restriction will affect the amount of nerves at each joint. An area of restriction will affect the amount of nerve signals travelling to the brain. This then results in an abnormal gait pattern. An abnormal gait pattern is clearly seen in a lameness, but often exists subtly as part of a poor performance scenario.
Areas of restriction, or "fixation" not only cause pain, but cause inflammation which will result in permanent degenerative changes to joints if untreated. An abnormal gait pattern has the secondary effect of resulting in overload of other areas of the body as they compensate for the primary restricted area. This will cause decreased performance and injury.
Treatment involves a very specific, manual technique with the chiropractor's hands. The joint is never taken beyond its normal range of motion.
Many unqualified, so called "back-people" use techniques which can be potentially damaging. Non-specific, forceful or long lever 'manipulations' may cause serious injury to your horse. Poorly qualified 'manipulators' may incorrectly diagnose conditions and not realise the need for veterinary intervention. By law any treatments on animals should be carried out under the care of a veterinary surgeon.