VThe veterinarians at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital answer your questions about yearling, weaner, 2-year-old, and breeding Thoroughbred auction sales and health care.
Question: It seems that chiropractic care has become more popular and accepted in the veterinary community in recent years. What types of problems can this therapy address well, and when is it not suitable?
Dr. Heath Soignier: “Chiropractic” therapy is very common in the human world and it is beginning to gain acceptance in the veterinary world. Veterinary Manual Spine Therapy, or more commonly known as “chiropractic” care, is a holistic approach as a treatment for injuries, body pain, etc. and should also be considered as a preventive therapy. Documented science supports the effectiveness of manipulative therapy. Spinal manipulation is a safe and effective treatment modality for animal patients. It can and does affect the nervous system directly and indirectly, allowing the therapist to think about the patient’s neuro-anatomical function. As integrative therapies are sought more often, it is important to remember that a patient’s comprehensive workups and a common sense approach to treatment are advised.
A common misconception is that a bone is “irrelevant”. It is best described as a lack of mobility or restricted movement of a joint within a normal range of motion. The purpose of a manual chiropractic adjustment is to set in motion a joint that has not moved properly or efficiently through its full range of motion.
These joints (units of movement) are palpated and assessed for movement or lack of movement, as well as warmth and tenderness. An adjustment is defined by experts as a “high velocity, low amplitude thrust in a specific direction of a specific joint”. When an adjustment is made, a few things happen to the specific joint being manipulated. These include breaking up adhesions, releasing synovial folds, and stimulating receptors in and around the joint. It is important to realize that these joints are only manipulated to the millimeter. By stimulating muscle receptors, the tone of surrounding muscles, tendons and tissues is also affected. This can help prevent some tendon injuries where an equine athlete may have some tension in a muscle that clinically shows no pain, but the extra tension under stress can lead to injury.
This treatment modality is most often considered after conventional veterinary care has not resolved the patient’s pain or discomfort. Some common indications for this therapy could be unresolved lameness, sudden behavioral changes, sports injuries, or it can be used as a complementary therapy. Some patients are assessed for general conditioning and any signs of pain or discomfort in areas of the body such as temporomandibular issues. Pain and muscle tone may indicate signs of joint restriction/dysfunction.
A major contraindication to treatment would be a fractured bone in a joint segment. Other contraindications include neoplasia, pyrexia (fever), illness or hemorrhage. Being able to make an adjustment will always depend on the patient’s cooperation. The safety of the patient as well as that of the therapist must always be a priority.
Spinal manipulation therapy is more commonly sought after now due to increasing drug regulation in equine athletes. A more holistic approach is gaining acceptance in the equine industry. These therapies can help our equine athletes and provide safe and effective treatment.
Dr. Heath Soignier grew up on a small farm in Bosco, Louisiana. After working in a co-ed veterinary practice in high school, he decided to attend Louisiana Tech University to pursue an undergraduate degree in animal science. He graduated in 2006 and continued his education at St. George’s University School of Veterinary Medicine and completed a clinical year at Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine in 2012. Dr. Soignier completed his outpatient internship with Rood and Riddle in 2013 and Rood and Riddle as a partner. Dr. Soignier’s particular areas of interest include reproduction, neonatal medicine and dentistry. In 2019, he became a Certified Veterinary Therapist in Spine Manipulation.
When not seeing patients, Dr. Soignier enjoys spending time with his wife Catherine and daughter Lucia on their small farm in Georgetown, Ky. He is also an avid sports enthusiast and outdoor enthusiast.