6 common conditions your dog has that ADJUSTMENTS can help with!
Updated: Oct 1, 2019
Thanks for joining me this month on my blog. As I have been networking with business owners and animal owners, a common question I get is: what kind of CONDITIONS do you treat?
Now, while I hate thinking of any body like a car (where you need to diagnose a problem, find a bad part, you fix that part, and that fixes the "problem") there are some common trends I see in the types of disorders that I work on.
Before I dive in, I want to remind you, the reader, that I AM NOT A VETERINARIAN. I do not diagnose or "cure" these conditions; I just help co-manage them.
My role in helping treat these conditions is to find joints (mainly, in the spine) that don't move well and make them move better. (If joints don't move properly, nerves aren't being stimulated correctly. If nerves aren't stimulated correctly, then the brain isn't getting correct information.) An adjustment frees up the blocked signals from the nerves that travel through the spinal cord (and up to the brain) so the brain can better do its job.
Now that all of that is out of the way, the most common conditions that benefit from ADJUSTMENTS are as follows.
1. Disc problems (IVDD/slipped disc/pinched nerve/Hansen type 1 disc disease)
Is it any question as to why I chose a picture of a wiener dog? Short legs + long back = BIG problems.
Small dogs (corgis, bassets, french bulldogs, chihuahuas, pomeranians, boston terriers, etc) are notorious for jumping off of furniture and hurting a disc in their back (as shown above). Jumping off the bed seems harmless at first, until you add up several years of multiple repetitive trauma (therefore weakening the spine) and then one large jump ("the straw on the camel's back") that causes the discs to rupture.
IVDD / slipped disc very commonly results in hind end paralysis, muscle spasm, difficulty walking, and sometimes incontinence. These symptoms are due to the collapsed disc pressing on the spinal cord (nerves are being choked off.) Unfortunately, many pets also have concurrent alignment issues due to the jarring forces that caused the injury.
I see many animals given pain medications that help to mask the problem (as medication works on the chemical mediators of inflammation), but not many are getting the biomechanical cause of pain (the disc pressing on a nerve) addressed.
Sometimes a disc will heal on its own, but 80-90% of the time, there will be a relapse during the healing process and the big "S" word will be thrown onto the table.
A typical spine surgery will cost anywhere from $3,000-5,000 and there are no guarantees.
An adjustment will:
-restore the alignment of bones so that the disc has the adequate amount of room it needs to heal
-balance the tight muscles that are in spasm around the joint
-restore proper motion to the area
This can certainly help during your pet's recovery!
Maintenance adjustments are CRITICAL for a pet that has a known IVDD disorder. As your pet likely will not stop doing the things that caused the injury in the first place, the body will remember it's compensation patterns (spasm, improper alignment, etc) and will default back to them.
2. Arthritis (spondylosis, osteoarthritis, Hansen type 2 disc disease)
These six symptoms are the MOST COMMON reasons I get called. However, most pets will have issues before any of these symptoms start to show. That is because, in the animal world, it's eat or be eaten. Showing "weakness" is not something an animal will do if they can help it!
Osteoarthritis is caused by chronic inflammation due to abnormal wear on the bones. I have most people visualize the tires on their car being in improper alignment for many years. The inevitable wear on the tread would be obvious within a few short weeks, but the tire may not "blow up" and cause a problem for a long time. The wear is what's happening to your pet throughout the years and the "all of the sudden" symptoms are the equivalent of the tire blowing up. The body will do everything it can to compensate, but ultimately, any body can become overwhelmed after years of abuse.
Spondylosis is a technical term for arthritis of the spine. Spondylosis consists of several things on xray:
-The disc loses its moisture and "shrinks" making the bones appear closer (this is called degenerative disc disease/IVDD)
-The top and bottom of the bone (called the end plates) become jagged and irregular due to the bones grinding on each other.
-The bone will start growing "beaks" also known as bone spurs or osteophytes.
Notice in the picture above the "healthy" joint in the middle and the two areas above and below that are dysfunctional and arthritic joints. Commonly, there are going to be alignment problems and degenerative changes in parts of the spine that move the most: in this case, where the mid-back turns into the lower back (thoracolumbar area) and the low back as it turns into the pelvis (lumbosacral area).
As these areas move excessively, the brain will notice and send signals to "stabilize" the area. I explain to people that it's like your brain is trying to lay down more tread where the tire is rapidly wearing. This process will start with inflammation (heat, swelling) and progress into the deposition of calcium in areas of chronic overuse.
A certain amount of degeneration is to be expected in an older pet or a pet that has had repetitive trauma. However, adjustments have a critical role to play to help these pets.
-Correct the alignment to prevent further wear on the joint.
-Stimulate nerves to signal to the brain that it needs to stop production of inflammation.
-Ease muscle spasm and compensation patterns to prevent future dysfunction.
In summary, adjustments STOP arthritis in its tracks so it cannot get worse. Though it would be nice to say adjustments are like a time machine and can erase years of abuse, that is often not the result. Ultimately, adjustments help maximize the function of already damaged structures so the pet can feel and function at their best for the many years to come.
3. Knee/hip disorders (such as, but not limited to: hip dysplasia, slipped capped femoral epiphysis, luxating patella, CCL tear)
Knee and hip disorders are a plague that affect large AND small breed dogs. Some are more common in large dogs, whereas others are more common in smaller dogs.
I have other blog posts that go into these conditions in more detail. What you need to know is that in most of these conditions, you run into one of three things.
A. Chronic obesity overloading the joints.
B. Bad genetics cause malformation of the bones or tissues.
C. Lack of conditioning.
Once a problem has already been diagnosed, adjustments WILL NOT "FIX" the condition. Adjustments will only help co-manage the condition by alleviating symptoms and preventing future dysfunction. However, if your dog is seen before a diagnosis is rendered, often adjustments can be preventative. I liken maintenance/wellness adjustments to brushing my teeth to prevent future tooth decay. (Remember, a cavity doesn't start out painful!)
The biggest problem a dog will have with dysfunctional hips and knee is that it will cause dysfunction in surrounding areas: mainly, the pelvis and the lower back. The adjustment's critical role is to:
-Balance muscle tone and alleviate painful muscle spasm.
-Correct dysfunctional gait patterns as to decrease strain on the weakened/malformed structures.
-Restore motion/alignment to the low back, SI joints, and sacrum so the hips and knees are even.
4. Loss of bowel/bladder control (incontinence)
Incontinence is a common problem with older pets. This condition can be the result of spondylosis/IVDD. Due to degenerative change, there is compression of the spinal cord and the nerves that exit the cord. As the nerves lose connection with the brain, the brain can no longer inhibit or control the organs that allow urination and defecation to occur. As pets age, the urinary musculature also starts to weaken.
(Incontinence is not to be confused with behavioral marking. Behavioral marking means the animal purposefully decides to mark something whereas incontinent dogs will unknowingly leak.)
What the adjustment will do for incontinence:
-Correct the alignment to prevent further wear of the spine/compression of the spinal cord.
-Stimulate nerves to signal to the brain that it needs to control the bladder.
There are other causes of incontinence that also need to be ruled out with your veterinarian:
A. Hormonal imbalance/endocrine disorder.
B. Genetic malformations of the "plumbing".
C. Obstruction (stones or otherwise).
I find a lot of cats also have renal issues that go unaddressed due to improper diet and/or kidney disease. Cats will often mark behaviorally due to pain (it hurts to get in the litter box) or will have difficulty urinating normally due to painful stones. An adjustment will help allow the cat's back to feel better so they can get in the box and will help open the pelvis to pass painful stones.
Always check with your vet first if your pet has incontinence as there is often more than one thing going on.
This is a condition I get a lot of questions about. Seizures are also a multi-faceted issue that need to be cleared with your vet FIRST. The cause of seizures can be anything from electrolyte imbalance all the way up to brain tumor. It's important to rule out the big scary stuff before moving into alternative therapies.
All of that aside, I find dogs with seizures ALWAYS have misalignment of the skull or the top two bones of the neck. It's important to remember that the skull and the spine are protective structures that act to protect the spinal cord while also enabling movement of the musculoskeletal system.
The atlas, the first bone of the spine, joins the skull right where the brain stem is turning into the spinal cord. It's important to remember that the brain stem controls all automatic functions of the body (things like heart beat, breathing, digestion) and the cerebellum (which sits just above the brain stem) helps to control things like balance and gait. Alignment problems with the atlas puts undue stretch/torque on the spinal cord (think: pulling and twisting on a rubber band) and can cause anything from a mild held tilt all the way up to the dog staggering around. The spinal cord is not a structure that wants to be stretched or twisted! Alignment of this bone is critical so the brain has an open "highway" to the rest of the body. The atlas is also the primary bone that allows your dog to rotate/tilt the head.
The axis, the second bone of the spine, has the primary role of stabilizing the atlas and providing attachment for many muscles of the neck. It also provides the ability to nod and extend the head. Improper alignment of this bone directly effects the atlas and the rest of the cervical spine via muscular attachment.
Alignment of these two bones is paramount in proper function of the brain stem and spinal cord. If these two structures are stuck, it's essentially like a kink in a water hose: the "water" from the brain cannot travel through the "spinal cord" hose. This "kinking" can also effect blood vessels that provide vital nutrients as they travel from the heart up to the brain. This may result in a loss of nutrients and blood flow to the brain, which may present itself as a seizure.
The adjustment will restore proper position to these upper two bones as to
-Decrease stretch or twisting on the spinal cord/brain stem.
-Prevent "kinking" in the hose to keep oxygen and nutrients traveling to the brain.
6. Ear problems (ear infections, vertigo, vestibular problems)