When subluxations are identified in the spine, a veterinary chiropractor will attempt a correction of the misalignment. This is called an ADJUSTMENT. An adjustment is a short, rapid thrust onto a vertebra in the direction that will replace it into a normal position.
Veterinary chiropractic is very specific and adjustments are made on vertebra directly. Jerking on legs or tails is not a chiropractic adjustment. An examination before the adjustment will identify all the subluxations of the spinal column.
An adjustment uses a controlled force. Simply because horses are large does not mean that abnormally large forces are needed to adjust them. The joints of the spine are moveable and if the correct angle is used, the adjustment is relatively easy and of low force. Veterinary chiropractors may also manipulate the joints of the legs, as well as the jaw.
Veterinary chiropractic is a diverse field and there are many different types of techniques that are used. Most veterinary chiropractors will use only their hands to adjust the vertebra of horses. This is possible by using leverage of vertebra that are distinctive in size and shape. Some doctors use a small impacting device, called an activator, to move the vertebra. The device is effective due its specificity and speed. Some individuals use mallets that are struck onto pads over the vertebra. This technique can be effective if used by skilled individuals but can create more problems if used by the unskilled.
The adjustment releases the “stuck” vertebra and restores alignment thus eliminating nerve pressure. The body can then repair tissues and restore function.
The most common misunderstanding concerning veterinary chiropractic care is why several adjustments may be needed. The purpose of an adjustment is to realign the spine. The muscles and ligaments of the horse must be able to maintain the correct spinal alignment. When an orthodontist works to straighten teeth, he applies a rigid brace directly to the teeth. Veterinary chiropractors cannot do this for the spine. Several adjustments may be needed until the body accepts and maintains the correct alignment. Most horses will show significant improvement in one to four adjustments. However, chronic spinal problems take longer to respond. Horses that are basically sound with a conformation suited to the desired per- formance, will respond quickly to adjustments and maintain spinal alignment longer.