Ask the Vet - Dr. Whitehead • Dr. Forsythe


Happy to be back in town

Well folks, I completed the five week intensive program at Options for Animals College of Animal Chiropractic in Wellsville, KS. After two days of testing, I am also certified by the International Veterinary Chiropractic Association (IVCA). I chose Options College because it is the only Animal Chiropractic School in the United States whose course is recognized by the IVCA.  I’ve returned home, and I’ve begun helping as many pets as possible!  On the way back from Kansas, I made a quick pit stop at Bittercreek Brewpub in Rock Creek on my way to the Tetons.  The burger I had was fabulous, but  I missed out on the beer: I had way too much driving to do in order to get back to California.

So what does an Animal Chiropractor do anyway? My sound bite answer is this: Animal Chiropractic works to restore movement to vertebral subluxation complexes to allow the body’s innate healing powers to function properly. What the heck are vertebral subluxation complexes?? The spine is meant to move. It flexes, it extends, it twists. It does combinations of these. Have you ever seen a Frisbee dog catch a flying disc? Or a horse buck? How about those Olympic divers? Just one vertebra has as many as twelve joints. Each one of these joints can become stuck – not that a bone is out of place, but that there is lack of movement in one or more of the joints.   A lack of movement across a joint in the spine is known as a vertebral subluxation complex.

Most people still believe the old “bone out of place” theory of chiropractic popularized by D. D. Palmer, the founder of modern Chiropractic. Back in the early 1900’s when D.D. Palmer first theorized this bone out of place idea, it made sense.  When he adjusted his first patient, Harvey Lillard, a man who’d been deaf for eight years after hearing a loud crack in his neck while working, the theory seemed plausible – Harvey’s hearing came back after the adjustment. Now that we have better imaging techniques we know there is no bone out of place. There’s just a lack of movement. As a matter of fact, most of the causes of neck and back pain can’t be seen with x-rays.  MRI and Cat Scan can sometimes see the soft tissue damage, and that soft tissue damage is what causes the pain, and sometimes the pain can cause the lack of movement. It’s like the chicken and the egg.  Did the pain cause the lack of movement or did the lack of movement cause the pain? Sometimes a muscle spasm can cause the lack of movement.  Anyone who’s had a muscle spasm knows how painful they can be!  The big problem is this:  When one segment gets stuck other segments need to increase movement to make up for it. When joints have too much movement, or instability, over time the body lays down new bone around the joints to help stabilize them.  When we X-ray these areas and see new bone where there should not be new bone we call it osteoarthritis, or degenerative joint disease.  It all comes back to lack of movement in a segment or segments of the spine- vertebral subluxation complexes.

If your pet has a bone out of place it’s probably got a fracture or a dislocation. Chiropractic adjustments won’t help these! Your pet needs a veterinary exam and treatment.  But if your pet has a limp, even if it’s only occasional, it may benefit from a chiropractic exam. If your pet has ever had back or neck pain, I’m sure a chiropractic exam and treatments could be very helpful.  It’s exciting that our office is offering integrative medicine now, and we hope to improve the wellness of many Sonoma Valley pets in the years to follow.

Glad to be back, Dr. Abbie

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