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What is Chiropractic Manipulation?

Chiropractic manipulation in horses is a therapy that aims to detect abnormal function in your horse vertebrae and joints and return them to natural functioning and movement, which has positive effects on musculoskeletal tissues and neurological activities. Chiropractic manipulation in horses generally uses manual manipulations to apply controlled force to joints and anatomical areas to effect changes to the joint and associated tissues and structures. When vertebrae and joints are not moving properly, irritation can develop to nerves, which in turn affect nervous system functioning and eventually soft tissues involved in movement. This results in pain and stress on joints and muscles. Restoring these apparatuses to healthy functioning restores soft tissue and neurological health in the horse. Properly functioning joints and vertebrae provide support for the proper function of muscles, tendons, and ligaments in your horse's body. Chiropractic care should be obtained from a trained veterinary chiropractic practitioner. This therapy is not effective for serious medical conditions including severe lameness or colic, and veterinary advice should always be sought before considering chiropractic therapy in your horse to treat a condition. Chiropractic manipulation may be most effective when combined with other traditional veterinary treatments such as medications for inflammation and pain.

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Chiropractic Manipulation Procedure in Horses

A trained chiropractic veterinary therapist will take a history and perform a physical exam prior to manipulation. This includes:

  • Observing the standing horse for abnormalities in posture
  • Examination of the spine and joints for heat, structural abnormalities, tenderness
  • Gait analysis
  • Manipulation of joints to determine range of motion issues

Chiropractic techniques involve the manipulation of joints, allowing tissues to relax and joints to realign or release themselves to the appropriate position and functioning. There are two methods of chiropractic manipulation. Manual manipulation with the practitioner's hand and instrument aided techniques. Instrument aided therapy may involve the use of a handheld spinal accelerometer to deliver fast, safe pressure. In manual manipulation, joints are manipulated through their range of motion and gentle pressure applied to relax tissues and allow the joint to regain its appropriate position and function. Pressure applied to anatomical areas also allow soft tissue relaxation and promote appropriate alignment and functioning of vertebra and related tissues.

Efficacy of Chiropractic Manipulation in Horses

Chiropractic manipulation is considered effective when used in conjunction with traditional veterinary medicine for the treatment of skeletal and musculoskeletal imbalance. It is not a substitute for veterinary care. A trained veterinary practitioner is important for providing appropriate treatment with an understanding of what chiropractic manipulation can and can not resolve.

Chiropractic Manipulation Recovery in Horses

There are few side effects and little recovery required for horses undergoing chiropractic manipulation. Your horse may experience stiffness or soreness after treatment. If this occurs you may want to provide your horse with 12 to 24 hours of rest following treatment.

Cost of Chiropractic Manipulation in Horses

The cost of equine chiropractic manipulation ranges from $50 to $150 per session. Multiple sessions may be required to achieve results. The first session is generally more expensive as it involves an assessment. Mileage to your location may also be a factor. Transporting your horse to the treatment site can save on these costs.

Horse Chiropractic Manipulation Considerations

Chiropractic manipulation is not a substitute for veterinary care and is not appropriate for most medical conditions. Many practitioners offering chiropractic services are not trained in either chiropractic techniques or veterinary medicine. Locating a certified veterinary chiropractor is important to ensure your horse receives therapy appropriate to his condition. Your local veterinarian can help you locate a trained therapist. 

Chiropractic Manipulation Prevention in Horses

The prevention of injuries during stabling and turnout by providing a safe environment, free from hazards, will reduce injuries that may result in joints requiring adjustment. When working with your horse, and especially while performing high intensity activities such as jumping, cutting, gymkhana etc., care should be taken to ensure adequate footing is present and that your horse does not exert himself beyond his abilities. Working your horse when overtired can aso result in accidents or stress, making injuries more likely to occur. Chiropractic manipulation can be used as a preventative measure routinely to ensure that your horse's joints are in good health and prevent muscle and back injuries.