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EQUINE CHIROPRACTIC (EQUINE VETERINARY MEDICAL MANIPULATION)

Equine Chiropractic or Medical manipulation is a therapy that uses motion palpation of the equine spine and limbs to find joint restrictions and then uses a high velocity, low amplitude (HVLA) thrust directed in the plane of the joint to help restore normal range of motion.  An HVLA is based on correct knowledge of equine anatomy and joint biomechanics and does not require massive strength to achieve a correct adjustment.  Because the manipulation takes place near the end of the horse’s natural range of motion for that selected joint, the thrust is very low amplitude.  Medical manipulations restore freedom of movement and range of motion, relaxes the muscles, and relieves the pain of a restricted joint.  EVMM is medical manipulation practiced by licensed veterinarians only and is focused exclusively on equines.

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Your Questions, Answered

WHAT ARE RESTRICTIONS?

A restriction is an area of the spine or joint that is “restricted” and unable to move.  Restrictions can be caused by trauma, confinement, exercise, and age.  They can be worsened by poor saddle fit, an unbalanced rider, poor hoof balance, and lack of cross-training and/or proper conditioning.  Common areas for restrictions include the TMJ joint, poll, lower cervical spine, back, pelvis, and sacrum.  Using the terms “out” and “stuck” can be misleading.  Adjustments (spinal manipulations) do not actually put bones back into place, but rather free up movement to allow for normal range of motion.

WHY DO RESTRICTIONS NEED TO BE CORRECTED?

Decreased flexibility, increased stiffness, resistance and often pain are all secondary to the decreased range of motion caused by a restriction.  Additionally misaligned vertebrae can cause issues at the level of the spinal cord, as well as where nerves exit between two vertebrae.  This can be very painful.  Horses may have a change in posture or compensate in how they carry themselves to avoid pain, creating further restrictions, additional injuries and/or lameness.  Furthermore, information flowing through the nervous system is slowed, decreasing the ability of the nervous system to send and receive information to and from muscles.  This can result in missteps/tripping, shortened strides, muscle damage and atrophy, joint and tendon injury and poor performance.

WHAT ARE EXAMPLES OF SIGNS MY HORSE HAS A RESTRICTION?

  • Poor Performance

  • Change in behavior or attitude while saddling or riding

  • Change in performance or decreased energy

  • Girthiness

  • Refusing jumps or changing in jumping style

  • Hard on one side

  • Resisting coming on the bit/poll flexion

  • Resisting collection or lateral bend

  • Avoiding bit contact

  • Wringing the tail

  • Hollowing back

  • Difficulty with one lead or always landing on the same lead or immediately switching leads after a jump

  • Stiffness, shortened stride

  • Muscle atrophy

  • Lameness

  • Bucking

  • Poor muscle development

  • Dragging toes

CAN ACUPUNCTURE AND IVMM BE USED ON THE SAME DAY?

ABSOLUTELY YES! Acupuncture and EVMM are synergistic.  Conventional medicine treats damaged tissue directly, EVMM restores range of motion and acupuncture supports both!  The greatest benefits to the patient are seen when they are combined into one treatment.

WHEN CAN I RIDE/SCHOOL/SHOW MY HORSE AFTER TREATMENT, AND HOW OFTEN SHOULD I HAVE YOU SEE MY HORSE?

  

It is recommended the horse has an 8-12 hours of turnout and/or stall rest after treatment.  A pre-show adjustment and treatment is a great way to get that edge up on your competition!  Ideally all high-performing horses should be examined at least every 4-6 weeks.  Dr. Godman has patients that are bi-weekly and others that are monthly.  Recommendations will be made at the time of examination as the best schedule for your horse’s benefit.   The examination as performed includes gait analysis, cranial nerve exam, acupuncture exam and motion palpation of all joints, axial and appendicular (limbs).  This allows removal of restrictions before they cause secondary issues and before adhesions become permanent.

IS EVMM SAFE?

Yes, when performed by a qualified veterinarian.  However, EVMM is NOT a replacement for conventional veterinary medicine.  EVMM work best when integrated with traditional approaches.  If Dr. Godman feels that additional diagnostics are needed before an adjustment she will make recommendations based on the horse’s medical history, discussing the primary complaint and goals for improvement, performing a physical exam, review of radiographs/ultrasound images etc.

HOW DO I KNOW IF MY HORSE LIKES THE TREATMENT?

Most horses will physically relax and you will see them licking their lips and/or yawning as the treatment takes place.  Some will stretch their necks after adjustments and shake their heads and some will even become sleepy!

HOW OLD DOES MY HORSE HAVE TO BE?

EVMM can be helpful in any age from foal to adult!

WHAT MAKES DR. GODMAN'S EVMM TRAINING UNIQUE?

Dr. Godman’s EVMM training is through the Integrative Veterinary Medical Institute.  This is the only medical manipulation course offered exclusively to veterinarians, focused specifically on equine practice.  This program has a strong foundation in equine anatomy and neurology.  Discussion of conventional and integrative veterinary medicine as well as 40+ hours of direct, hands-on wet lab experience with diagnostics and treating real cases.  Because of the veterinarian-only aspect, the hands-on wet labs explore veterinary education level radiology, laser therapy, ultrasound therapy, dissection of equine cadavers, and sport/discipline/breed specific biomechanics.

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