Chiropractic can also offer valuable assistance to veterinarians dealing with lameness. The goal here is to find the primary source of pain, rather than treating what might be a secondary source. In equine practice, back problems and leg injuries are often inter-related.
The abnormal weight bearing and altered gait can subsequently overwork or injure associated back muscles. Back injuries can result in increased forces to the joints, resulting lameness, or gait alterations in the feet and legs, as the horse tries to protect its sore back. Unless the primary cause of the back pain is identified and treated, most horses will have recurring back pain when returned to work after a period of medication and/or rest.
Chronic gait alterations leads to increased wear and tear on joints, causing problems such as degenerative joint disease and arthritis. Maintaining proper balance and function can keep equine athletes working sound longer and decrease the need for joint injections. Chiropractic can also be a very useful diagnostic tool when having difficulty locating a mild lameness.
How is equine chiropractic care used?
• To treat chronic musculoskeletal problems
• To treat acute problems such as tension or stiffness
• Prophylactic treatment to maintain fitness/performance
• To maintain soundness in older animals
• To enhance the performance ability of your equine athlete
How do I know if my horse would benefit from chiropractic care?
Horses that may benefit from chiropractic care may present with many signs, the most common of which is pain. Horses with back pain often express this in their posture or in their refusal to work. A horse’s attempts to compensate for the pain by changing its posture and way of going can result in other problems such as joint problems.
Recognizing Signs of discomfort
• Reduced performance
• Abnormal posture
• Biting and pinning ears when being saddled
• Discomfort under saddle (head tossing, hollowing of the back, tail swishing)
• Difficulties with collection, lateral gaits and flexion of the neck
• Refusing Jumps or inability to round back over fences
• Muscle imbalance, spasms or atrophy
• Lack of swing through the back
• Gait difficulties – crossfiring, lead problems, lack of strength in one direction
• Difficulty engaging the hindquarters
• Difficulty working “long and low”
• Shortened stride length
• Non-descript lameness (A horse who is just “off” but not lame)
• Overall decreased range of motion in gait
• Difficulty flexing the poll
• Recent injury from falls, training or other activities