What is Veterinary Medical Manipulation and How Can it Help Your Pet?

What is Veterinary Medical Manipulation?

Veterinary Medical Manipulation (VMM) is similar to a chiropractic adjustment performed by a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) in humans. It is a mode of therapy that involves the manipulation and adjustment of the spine and other joints in animals and is performed by a trained and certified Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM). The health of cartilage, muscles and nerves is dependent upon normal motion. If a joint becomes restricted in its motion or jammed, this often affects the nerves in nearby areas which, in turn, interrupts messages to the rest of the body, leading to pain and loss of function in other areas.

What are signs that my pet may need Veterinary Medical Manipulation?

• Abnormal gait or undefined lameness

• Abnormal posture or stance

• Reduced performance or lack of power

• Sitting to one side or “Puppy Sitting”

• Refusal to lie down in horses

• Reluctance to move, jump or climb stairs

• Stiffness or reluctance to bend

• Pain during certain movements or when lifted

• Discomfort when being groomed or hypersensitivity to touch

• Recurrent digestive problems or incontinence

• Difficulty with lead changes or lateral work in horses

• Neck or back pain

• Recurrent infections or inflammatory conditions

• Lick granulomas

How is Veterinary Medical Manipulation performed?

Veterinarians use their hands to identify areas of restriction and, once identified, a precise thrust on the immobile anatomical structures is applied (with care taken to remain within the normal range of motion of the joint). This treatment can restore normal motion of the vertebra thus removing neurological blockages. When the nerves can efficiently communicate with all the structures in your animals’ bodies, they will begin to heal. Pain diminishes and mobility is restored, allowing the body to perform at its optimum potential. Animals accept this treatment well and resolution of the restriction often results in immediate relief from pain. Most animals enjoy their treatment.

What conditions does VMM treat?

Spinal manipulation can be used to treat animals with painful necks or backs. It can help older, stiff animals with chronic lameness issues that develop back problems from moving incorrectly. It may be helpful in dogs with intervertebral disc disease by relieving some of the pressure on the disc. Animals with a vague, hard to diagnose lameness or that just seem “off” may have problems in the spine or pelvis that can be treated. Chronic musculoskeletal problems such as sacroiliac disease, hip dysplasia, luxating patellae and arthritis may benefit and some cases of urinary incontinence or lick granuloma on the legs can be helped with VSM as well.

VMM is very helpful in geriatric animals - to maintain function and mobility, thus improving their quality of life. This therapy is also not limited to an injured or sick pet; healthy and athletic animals are ideal candidates for VMM examination and care as well. Working dogs that do sheepherding, agility and flyball or other similar activities can benefit from manipulation to keep them in the best possible condition for the rigorous demands placed on their bodies. Maintaining proper structural alignment promotes optimal function of the muscles, nerves and tissues supporting the joints, resulting in improved flexibility, increased agility, endurance, and overall performance. The broader benefits include superior immune function, healthier metabolism and a vibrant nervous system, facilitating your animal’s natural ability to heal.

Contraindications with VMM

VMM should be used with caution in pets with fractures, pregnancy, severe skin disease, spinal instability, and any significant disease process. VMM is performed only by a certified Veterinarian to ensure that other conditions may be identified before the animal is manipulated.

Contact your veterinarian if you would like more information on Veterinary Spinal Manipulation or “chiropractic” care to enhance the quality of your pet’s life, ensuring active and healthy years.

Hillary Cook DVM, CVA, CCRP, CVMMP - Dr. Hillary Cook graduated from Virginia Maryland Regional Veterinary College in 1999 and now owns Animal Wellness Center in Crozet, Virginia, which is an integrative practice providing both western medicine and surgery along with complimentary services. Dr. Cook is certified in Veterinary Acupuncture, Canine Rehabilitation, and Veterinary Spinal Manipulation. Dr. Cook has a special interest in holistic therapies, including Chinese and Western herbal therapies, as well. She is dedicated to improving the life quality of the geriatric and terminal patient.

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