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An Appraisal of Courses in Veterinary Chiropractic

Today’s guest article, by By Ragnvi E. Kjellin, DVM, and Olle Kjellin, MD, PhD, was submitted to a series of veterinary journals, but none of them wanted to publish it. ScienceBasedMedicine.org is pleased to do so.
 


 
Animal chiropractic is a relatively new phenomenon that many veterinarians may know too little about. In Sweden, chiropractic was licensed for humans in 1989, but not for animals. Chiropractors claim that their field is scientific, while others consider it to be a form of ”alternative medicine” with an implausible and unsubstantiated theoretical foundation and little evidence of efficacy. Chiropractic is not taught in medical or veterinary schools.

Courses in “veterinary chiropractic” are offered by two companies in Germany. In their classes, veterinarians and human chiropractors are purposely mixed. A recent malpractice case in Sweden involved one of their students, a veterinarian who was accused of injuring a horse with chiropractic neck manipulation. That case led us to inquire into the underlying theory, clinical practices, and training of “veterinary chiropractors”.

Human chiropractic was founded in 1895 when D.D. Palmer, a grocer and magnetic healer with no medical training, decided that 95% of all diseases were due to vertebral subluxations that blocked the flow through the spinal nerves to all muscles and organs of the body, including the brain, eyes and ears. Adjusting subluxations supposedly allows the body to heal itself by “innate intelligence.” Over a century later, there is still no evidence that such subluxations or “intelligence” exists.

Mainstream medicine has always been skeptical of chiropractic1. Even some chiropractors have criticized the practices of their colleagues2,3. Several recent meta-analyses of chiropractic for various ailments4,5,6 have concluded that musculoskeletal back and possibly neck pain may benefit from spinal manipulation therapy; but the results are not superior to other treatments, and there is no evidence of benefit for other ailments.

Considerable controversy surrounds the chiropractic field. It is therefore essential that veterinarians understand the facts about chiropractic before they consider practicing it, recommending it, or even condoning it for the animals they treat.

Materials and Methods

The web sites of two training companies in Germany, viz. the BackBone-Academy for Veterinary Chiropractic and Healing Arts (BBA) and the International Academy of Veterinary Chiropractic (IAVC) and their parent organizations were reviewed. The 500-page course compendium7 from the BBA was closely scrutinized. As most of the Swedish veterinarians who attended chiropractic courses did so at the BBA, the focus of the appraisal was set on this organisation. Their claims were weighed against whatever evidence that could be found in peer-reviewed articles in PubMed and Ovid Medline concerning human as well as animal chiropractic.

Results

What is Chiropractic?

Chiropractic is very poorly defined.2 Claims include:

  • ”Chiropractic is a health care discipline which emphasizes the inherent recuperative power of the body to heal itself without the use of drugs or surgery.
  • Chiropractic [...] focuses particular attention on the subluxation.
  • A subluxation is a complex of functional and/or structural and/or pathological articular changes that compromise neural integrity and may influence organ system function and general health”8.

The subluxation is the core idea underlying chiropractic diagnosis and treatment. But there is no universally accepted definition. The original idea of a physical subluxation has not been substantiated, and neither have “functional and/or structural and/or pathological articular changes” been shown objectively to exist.

The subluxation concept is under constant debate within the chiropractic community3. A recent review of the literature by chiropractors searching for evidence that subluxations can affect health concluded that ”No supportive evidence is found for the chiropractic subluxation being associated with any disease process or of creating suboptimal health conditions requiring intervention. Regardless of popular appeal this leaves the subluxation construct in the realm of unsupported speculation. This lack of supportive evidence suggests the subluxation construct has no valid clinical applicability”9. Despite this there are strong forces to preserve this concept10,11.

The standard chiropractic treatment is called adjustment or manipulation. Chiropractors claim that a “high velocity low amplitude” (HVLA) thrust in the plane of the joint will force it just slightly beyond its normal range of movement, but not so far as to cause an injury. This, they assert, will help the body to heal itself.

Chiropractic uses a plethora of treatment methods, though there seem to be no efforts to separate the chaff from the wheat12. Some are vigorous manipulations that cause audible cracking and popping sounds. Others consist of light touch or other methods that non-chiropractors may find strange. Many chiropractors mainly use physical methods directed at symptomatic areas, like physical therapists. Subluxation oriented chiropractors treat subluxations regardless of whether the patient has symptoms or not; healthy individuals, they say, need regular prophylactic adjustments. The courses and organizations of animal chiropractic under scrutiny here seem to belong to this latter group, as they emphasize the vertebral subluxation complex and its assumed effect on health and wellness.

History of Animal Chiropractic

Formal training in animal chiropractic was developed in the US during the 1990′s by the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association (AVCA), which was founded in 1988. From the very beginning, the basic course concept was to train veterinarians and (human) chiropractors together. In 2000, the AVCA was restructured into a professional organization and certifying agency for animal chiropractors. The training was then separated from AVCA and was named Options for Animals13.  Later on, two independent training organizations were founded in the USA with the same basic concept. One of them is the Healing Oasis Wellness Center (HOWC).

The two animal chiropractic courses in Germany, the BackBone-Academy and the International Academy of Veterinary Chiropractic (IAVC), have strong connections with their parent organizations in the US, HOWC and Options for Animals, respectively. There also are strong bonds between the course organizers and the control organizations AVCA and IVCA (the International Veterinary Chiropractic Association). Options for Animals and AVCA were founded by the same person, and two of the owners of the IAVC founded the IVCA. The animal chiropractors are certified and the courses accredited by the AVCA and IVCA. The intricate relations are depicted in Fig. 1.

Fig. 1. Organisation and association scheme of the appraised animal chiropractic enterprises.

Course Curriculum

The BBA course consists of five one-week modules: (I) cervical, (II) thoracolumbal, (III) sacropelvic, (IV) extremities and (V) integrated.

The curriculum contains established subjects like anatomy, neurology, biomechanics, pathology, etc., as well as more unconventional subjects such as adjustment techniques for “ribs, temporomandibular joints, tail and cranium.” Techniques taught include Logan Basic, Activator, and how to use “acupuncture, acupressure and applied kinesiology or magnetic therapy as well as physical modalities to speed up the healing process”.14

Other parts of the course are “Animal Chiropractic Philosophy” and “Chiropractic Basics” aimed at introducing the students to the vertebral subluxation complex. Under the heading “Chiropractic Pathology” they emphasize “the pathological changes of the joints, the body and compensatory mechanism that develop secondary to the vertebral subluxation complex”. Some of the ideas, techniques and methods taught warrant a closer look:

Craniosacral Therapy

In craniosacral therapy the therapists use their hands to tune into what they call the craniosacral system. Working with the spine and the skull and its cranial sutures and fascia, the restrictions of nerve passages are said to be eased, the movement of cerebrospinal fluid through the spinal cord optimized, and misaligned bones restored to their proper position. They claim that they feel the pulse wave of the cerebrospinal fluid through the skull and along the spine to the sacrum, and even to the feet. The BBA compendium presents this as a useful technique to address the vertebral subluxation. Light touch will balance the craniosacral system and “remove restrictions in dura and fascia [and] cranial sutures”. This ignores the fact that the concepts underlying craniosacral therapy have been definitely refuted in several studies15-18. Even proponents find suture mobility to be no more than 0.07 mm even with very high distractive loads, though some still tend to regard this as “significant”19.

Logan Basic

This technique regards the sacrum as the most important part of the body, and a “sacral subluxation” is said to cause impairments in the entire spine all the way up to the atlas20. According to a sample scenario in the BBA compendium, a right-sided ventro-caudal subluxation of the sacrum will cause lower cervical vertebrae to rotate to the right and the atlas to the left (called “Atlas left posterior”), and also cause a right paraspinal muscular spasm, a shorter right rear leg, and other abnormalities. To adjust the spinal subluxations, the sacrum has to be adjusted first. This is done with a very gentle touch with the thumb, “only 5 g”, on the lowest part of the sacrum21. The touch allegedly will cause a reflexive relaxation of the muscles, so that the sacrum can align itself. No scientific studies were found for Logan Basic.

The Activator Method

This is a system for diagnosis and treatment based on the idea that a difference in leg length will indicate where there is a need for adjustment. A small hand-held instrument with a spring-loaded mallet (Fig. 2) is then used ”to tap misaligned vertebrae back into place”22. The proponents claim that the Activator delivers a precise HVLA thrust, but that it is much gentler than the manual thrust and that they can direct the force more exactly23. (The thrust amplitude is up to about 4 mm.) The instrument also is claimed to be useful “for exciting a human spine at its natural frequency”24. In a British survey, 82% of the responding chiropractors said that they used an Activator25. Despite its long history and popularity, the Activator has been little studied and has not been validated for animals or humans26.

Fig. 2. Activator type of instrument for so-called Mechanical Force, Manually Assisted, Short Lever Chiropractic Adjustment.

Applied Kinesiology 

AK is a diagnostic method where muscle strength is tested. It is based on the idea that the individual’s subconscious knows where in the body the problem originates, and that the muscle strength decreases when that part of the patient’s body is touched27. For instance, the patient is asked to extend an arm and resist the therapist’s pressure against it. If the patient has a knee problem, the muscle strength in the arm decreases when the therapist touches the knee. AK is also used to diagnose nutrient deficiencies, allergies and other ailments. Allergies are diagnosed if muscle strength appears to decrease when the patient holds a sealed vial of allergen in the other hand28. For animals (and small children), they test a surrogate person who is in contact with the patient29. One of the BBA instructors claims that “[m]uscle testing, when applied with knowledge, experience and passion, give the veterinarian an invaluable way to communicate with your patients and ask them the questions you’ve always wanted to ask them”30. We have not found any study corroborating these ideas31-34. On the contrary, the best evidence shows it is equivalent to coin tossing35.

Fig. 3. Applied Kinesiology using a surrogate person.

The Instructors

The instructors of the BBA, seven veterinarians and two chiropractors, are introduced on the web site. None of the veterinarians is a licensed chiropractor; they were trained at animal chiropractic courses in the US or Germany. Most of them practice acupuncture; some use applied kinesiology, osteopathy, and magnet therapy. The head instructor, Dr. Pedro Rivera, is also trained in homeopathy. Together with his wife, a massage and herbal therapist, he founded the Healing Oasis Wellness Center (HOWC) mentioned above. Both of the chiropractors and three of the veterinarians at the BBA are connected with the HOWC. This company organizes animal chiropractic courses and runs a veterinary hospital that focuses on alternative and integrative care, providing veterinary spinal manipulation, veterinary Chinese herbology, veterinary massage, veterinary homeopathy, veterinary acupuncture, mainstream veterinary care, and Feng Shui.

The Compendium

The BBA compendium of animal chiropractic encompasses some 500 pages. Large parts deal with anatomy, neurology, pathology, saddle fit, etc. Other parts deal with the philosophy of chiropractic, specific treatment techniques, business tips, and more. Some of the sections are remarkable and deserve special mention:

Cranial Sutures

Module I claims that ”[t]he calcification process of cranial sutures is SLOW and UNEVEN. It is NOT completed even in the aged animal!” (Upper case and exclamation mark as in the original.) Their emphases seem to imply that they want their students to believe that these rigid, fibrous, highly interdigitated joints are actually possible to move to a significant and clinically useful extent. We have not identified any scientific support for this idea in the literature, but it obviously is necessary in order to rationalize Craniosacral Therapy.

Risks

It is widely accepted in mainstream medicine that neck manipulation in humans can cause strokes. There are hundreds of documented cases36,37 and a plausible pathoanatomical mechanism (injury to the vertebral artery in its tortuous passage through and around the atlas). But many chiropractors have denied any possible causal relationship, claiming that stroke at neck manipulation is a mere coincidence in persons who were going to have this stroke anyway, citing a study that actually fails to substantiate its hypothesis38.

In Module V, the BBA mentions the risk of chiropractic stroke but downplays its significance, saying it is less than the risk of dying under conventional medical care. However, a Swedish case of veterinary malpractice39 indicates that neck manipulation of a horse may be associated with stroke, which otherwise is unheard of in horses. This horse developed symptoms such as ataxia, dysphagia, and facial hemiparesis, compatible with a lateral medullary infarction (Wallenberg syndrome), which is typical of ischemia in the vertebrobasilar artery region. The horse died of esophageal obstruction some 18 months later.

Scientific Validity

Under this heading the BBA cites four irrelevant references that fall very short of giving any validity to chiropractic in general, much less to animal chiropractic. The first one is the Manga Report, funded by the Ontario Ministry Of Health, Canada 199340. This political (not scientific or medical) report only dealt with the treatment of low back pain and concluded that chiropractic services were useful and more cost-effective than current medical treatment and should receive public funding.

The second reference is not even about chiropractic but about lumbosacropelvic anatomical variations in racehorses41. The third reference reports inconsistent variations in nerve signals from paraspinal muscle proprioceptors on manipulative-like loads in anesthetized cats, with no discussion of whether these findings had any clinical significance42. BBA’s fourth reference is a symposium abstract from 1999, not a peer reviewed article.

Discussion

Our research into veterinary chiropractic revealed that chiropractic as such is based on a pre-scientific, vitalistic belief system that can neither be proved nor falsified, and that the information provided for the courses in animal or veterinary chiropractic raises several concerns.

First, several of the subjects included in the curricula are patently pseudoscientific, lacking any biological plausibility, and even are irreconcilable with modern biomedical knowledge, e.g., the illusion that examiners can feel a craniosacral cerebrospinal fluid pulse; the idea that cranial bones can be repositioned in adults; the idea that subluxations exist in the sacrum of horses and can be adjusted with “five grams pressure” or a little mechanically assisted tap, whose proposed mechanisms of action seem rather absurd2. Of all subjects mentioned, Applied Kinesiology is the most bizarre and its surrogate testing beyond all reason. To include all this outlandish nonsense in courses for veterinarians is an insult to their profession.

Second, chiropractic is strongly connected with other unproven or disproven alternative methods, which is obvious from the CVs of the instructors and the range of treatments that the Healing Oasis (HOWC) proffers in its web site.

Third, chiropractic calls itself scientific, but is based on a philosophy that the body can heal itself after adjustment of subluxations, not on any objective evidence. Nobody has been able to show that chiropractic subluxations exist, much less that they affect any functions of the nervous system to cause any illness.

Fourth, while in human studies there is weak support for some small beneficial effect of manipulation on low back pain, in animals there is no scientific support for any chiropractic manipulation treatment at all. Nevertheless, in all web pages and the BBA compendium the subluxation is presented as an obvious fact and the various methods and techniques as if they were well validated.

Courses that contain pre-scientific belief systems, pseudoscientific methods, imaginative ideas and unsubstantiated assertions have no place in veterinary medicine.

Animal chiropractic courses have only existed for a couple of decades and are given by a small number of zealots who are approved by one another. The merits of such accreditations have to be strongly questioned. We also question the basic concept of mixing veterinarians and human chiropractors in the same classes. How much veterinary medicine can the chiropractors learn in such a short time, and how much are the veterinarians influenced by the chiropractors’ strong faith and their skewed portrayal of the scientific evidence concerning chiropractic?

At the outset of this study, we expected that courses in chiropractic given by veterinarians for veterinarians would have selected elements credibly deemed to be applicable to animal care. However, this was not the case. The instructors and course materials do not discriminate between fantasy and reality but include even the most implausible ideas.

Conclusion

Animal chiropractic and the veterinary chiropractic courses scrutinized here mix science, pseudoscience and fantasy and make no visible effort to show which is which. They give biased information and refer to more or less irrelevant articles to make the courses look serious and credible. Many of the methods taught lack evidence as well as plausibility and are clearly outside the realm of medical science. We found no evidence for the use of animal chiropractic in veterinary medicine.

Acknowledgments

The authors wish to thank Dr. Harriet Hall,  Dr.  Brennen McKenzie, and Dr. David Ramey for valuable advice on various versions of this article.

About the Authors

Ragnvi E. Kjellin, DVM, is a graduate of the Swedish Veterinary University. She has always been a realist and skeptic, and has been keeping a scrutinizing eye over the Altmed frontier since a long time. She never stops being astonished of the gullibility of so many people. In the 1980′s there were not many alternative methods in veterinary medicine in Sweden, but they seem to be gaining ground at an accelerating pace. The Singh & Ernst book Trick or Treatment was a wake-up call, and she reviewed it in the Swedish Veterinary Journal.

Ragnvi has long had a particular interest in chiropractic, not only as it is the potentially most dangerous form due to direct injuries, but also as it cunningly has managed to put up and hide behind such a sciency facade that even many scientifically educated persons seem to have difficulties seeing through the obfuscation. The greatest shock was when she realized that even some veterinarians, i.e., persons with the same education as herself, were strong believers of animal chiropractic. And to her great dismay, even the Swedish Veterinary Journal regularly announces the courses in animal chiropractic!
She wrote a critical article on animal chiropractic in the Journal — and got some remarkably hostile comments in subsequent issues.

Olle Kjellin, MD, PhD, is a Swedish radiologist and speech physiologist with a special interest in statistics and research methodology as well as in most medical subjects. Though not currently a researcher, he is a hungry but critical consumer of research papers. His MD is from Uppsala University, Sweden, and PhD (or, formally, Dr Med Sci) from Faculty of Medicine, Tokyo University, Japan. He also has an MA in linguistics, phonetics and modern languages from Stockholm University, Sweden. He can’t keep silent when he sees unsupported methods sneaking into the regular health care sector, and he has had several open conflicts with his employer and leading politicians against flimsy bullshit in the psychiatry sector.

Ragnvi and Olle share interests as above and have spent several years together researching all kinds of pseudoscientific ideas, mainly those with medical claims, and chiropractic in particular.

References

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  16. Moran RW, Gibbons P. Intraexaminer and interexaminer reliability for palpation of the cranial rhythmic impulse at the head and sacrum. J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2001;24:183-190.
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  35. Lüdtke R, Kunz B, Seeber N, et al. Test-retest-reliability and validity of the Kinesiology muscle test. Complement Ther Med 2001;9:141-145.
  36. Dziewas R, Konrad C, Drager B, et al. Cervical artery dissection — clinical features, risk factors, therapy and outcome in 126 patients. J Neurol 2003;250:1179-1184.
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  38. Cassidy JD, Boyle E, Cote P, et al. Risk of vertebrobasilar stroke and chiropractic care: results of a population-based case-control and case-crossover study. Spine 2008;33:S176-183.
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Posted in: Chiropractic, Veterinary medicine

Leave a Comment (38) ↓

38 thoughts on “An Appraisal of Courses in Veterinary Chiropractic

  1. Chris Repetsky says:

    Wonderful article, Drs. Kjellin! I’m particularly pleased to see this piece published here, as this very topic was the one that prompted me to health fraud activism years ago. A local Chiropractor was offering these “services”, and I ended up taking him to task with the licensing board. The DVM board issued him a cease and desist, and that stopped the advertisements altogether!

  2. Eugenie Mielczarek says:

    Many of my friends, loving concerned owners of dogs and horses, are convinced that vets licensed as distance healing practitioners (Reiki) are successful in alleviating aging painful joints of their pets. These visits are not free. No double blind studies are need –pets can’t talk.

  3. A good friend of mine had a dog that was suffering from severe hair loss. His wife brought the dog to an applied kinesiologist who diagnosed the dog with an allergy to lamb. Dang, these quacks are stupid.

  4. okjhum says:

    We fully understand that many chiropractors and pet owners are gullible, but _veterinarians_!!! :(
    /Olle Kjellin

  5. Janet Camp says:

    This is appalling! The poor animals have no defense against these manipulations. Does the Humane Society have any opinion on such practices? I would sadly guess that many of the people at PETA heartily approve, however.

    At least homeopathy for animals is harmless–unless it delays treatment.

  6. DevoutCatalyst says:

    @okjhum

    “Dr. Marvin Cain…treats laminitis with releasing “excess heat” in the Small Intestine and Large Intestine (Colon and Cecum) acupuncture energy meridians at their distal points on the outside lateral and inside medial, respectively of the coronet band of the two front feet. He inserts an 18 or 20 gauge hypodermic needle (depending on size of horse) at these two points into the digital veins of the fetlock joint, lets it bleed as much as a liter.

    In so doing, pressure is relieved in the foot structures and “cleansing from within” is accomplished with fresh oxygenated blood being permitted to flow through the area. He also acupunctures and balances Liver points. He recommends lipotrophic supplements for the liver: choline, Biotin, Inosatol, Cysteine, etc.)”

  7. art malernee dvm says:

    The poor animals have no defense>>>>>>

    when you are a fancy stainless steel hammer everything looks like a horse subluxation

    Art Malernee dvm

  8. Earthman says:

    @DevoutCatalyst

    Wow acupuncture and blood letting – could it be reading chicken entrails next?

    Seriously, I am appalled that this article, with tighter wording (I assume it has been made informal for this posting) could not be placed in a journal. What is it with journal editors these days that they will publish junk and not serious studies. They are getting like newspaper editors.

  9. lizditz says:

    Thank you, Drs. Kjellin, for this excellent article. The equine industry, especially in the high-end performance horse industry, is rife with woo and pseudoscience.

    While this article is more about the training of equine chiropractors, I want to talk about the end result.

    I am a life-long equestrian, and I have a confession to make. Even though I’m a well-known activist against pseudoscience in health care (and particularly tough on chiropractic) I’ve used equine chiropractic and my daughter still does. I have direct experience with three equine chiropractors; one was an equine vet and herself a competitor in endurance riding; the other two were also quite experienced horsefolk but not veterinarians.

    None of the practitioners I’ve used have used applied kinesiology, activators or other devices, or really talked about “subluxations” per se. All have used the term “adjustments” but what happens in practice is more like physical therapy, moving joints through the full range of motion, rather than thrusts or high-velocity moves — although I have observed the high-velocity moves sometimes.

    I had to count on my fingers. I’ve had 12 horses (my daughter’s and my own) since 1989, which was my first introduction to equine chiropractic (bought an event horse whose owner said “he’d go lame without chiropractic”). I can think of 4 of those horses who would (eventually) start to do some of the head/neck movements on their own, and 2 who would do something that looks like the equine version of the yoga posture Downward Dog on their own.

    Most horses in the US are kept in highly unnatural conditions, being kept in small stalls up to 23 hours per day. I do think there’s a place in equine medicine for something more like physical therapy or therapeutic exercise to counter these unnatural conditions. Just hold the AK & homeopathy, please.

  10. art malernee dvm says:

    There has been a study on horse cadavers looking at the forces needed to move vertebral joints, and it showed manipulation by hand could not possible “adjust” a horse’s vertebrae. I’m still looking for the study. The joke I posted about hammer/nail was because people have tried to adjust the back of a horse with a hammer. As far as testimonials go remember that timing has a lot to do with the success of a rain dance.
    Art Malernee dvm

  11. lizditz says:

    Dr. Malernee,

    I hope you didn’t come away from my comment thinking it was a testimonial to chiropractic, because I certainly didn’t intend it in that way. For the record, my adult daughter’s horse is still receiving chiropractic care because….well, because my daughter’s trainer (the person who looks after her horse and also instructs my daughter) is a true believer in chiropractic care, and my daughter doesn’t yet have the backbone to say, NO!

    I do think that equine exercise physiology could do more to benefit animals kept in unnatural conditions, in an evidenced-based way.

  12. art malernee dvm says:

    The latest exercise equine and small animal woo is hyperbaric oxygen therapy. One chamber blew up in florida and killed the horse and one human.
    Art Malernee dvm

  13. organic farms, think of them what you will, are a huge market for these types of treatments. Can’t use antibiotics? feel bad for your suffering animal? try CAM. I’ve talked to 3 organic farmers from this area about homeopathic treatments for their goats, chickens, cows. Most them have tried stuff like in the article often at the suggestion of Organic certification orgs.
    the farmers said they would always call in the real vet if things were looking dire for their animal. pointless suffering.

  14. kathy says:

    Art Malernee dvm wrote: “The latest exercise equine and small animal woo is hyperbaric oxygen therapy. One chamber blew up in florida and killed the horse and one human.”

    What happened I wonder … sparks? Did they forget that most horses are shod with steel shoes? Did nasty ol’ “chem and phys” interfere with wellness, tsk?

    Jokes aside, it maddens me to hear of animals being “treated” with woo for real illness or injury. Like babies they can’t speak; unlike babies most of them can’t even cry. Treating a horse with laminitis by acupuncture should be prosecuted by the SPCA … it is the most agonising thing for a horse to suffer imho and, even with the best treatment, many of them die or are lame for life.

  15. Alia says:

    I agree with the above about unnecessary suffering. My cat was dying, her life was saved by our vet and science-based veterinary medicine. Well, drips were probably more painful for her than homeopathic sugar pills but she rapidly got better and is still with us after a year and a half since she was diagnosed with renal failure.

  16. lizditz says:

    HBOT for horses killed Erica Marshall, 28, and seriously injured Sorcha Moneley, 33; the horse undergoing treatment was killed. New Details Emerge In KESMARC Hyperbaric Chamber Explosion.

    The horse was owned and bred by Jacqueline Mars and was at the beginning of its eventing career.

    The steel-shod horse became agitated in the chamber and began kicking, which caused sparks, which prompted the subsequent fire and explosion.

  17. rwk says:

    The Article makes no mention of all the animals whose performance particularly Horses are improved. Even Lizditz
    pays good money as do countless others. It’s not cheap and which skeptic here would like to call this the placebo effect?

  18. Harriet Hall says:

    @rwk,

    I don’t doubt that a horse’s performance may improve, but I doubt that it was because a chiropractor fixed its subluxations.
    Animals respond to attention and may well benefit from massage and manipulation. Their owners may respond to suggestion and wishful thinking and interpret the animal’s behavior as improvement of symptoms.

  19. @rwk, still cracking the old backs and fixin’ them subluxations, eh? I’m glad to see you’re advocating ripping pet owners off with ridiculous quackery. It’d be a shame if you broke the mold.

  20. rmgw says:

    “I would sadly guess that many of the people at PETA heartily approve, however.” – Another instance of the unfortunate join-up (no pun intended, equestrians) between woo and ethical veganism: the two have nothing ot do with each other and it’s most unfortunate that they are linked in the public mind.

    Art:” There has been a study on horse cadavers looking at the forces needed to move vertebral joints, and it showed manipulation by hand could not possible “adjust” a horse’s vertebrae. I’m still looking for the study”. So am I – could there be a reference somewhere in the works of James Rooney….or have we had this conversation elsewhere?

  21. DW says:

    Just wanted to point out that placebo effects in animals have been discussed here previously:

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/index.php/is-there-a-placebo-effect-for-animals/

  22. art malernee dvm says:

    David Ramey may have a memory of wackiness of chiropractors hitting horses on the back with stainless steel hammers because studies show you cannot move the horse backbone with you hand. Since chiropractors crack you back I guess you can at least move human back bones enough to pop the gas out of the intervertebral joints.
    Art Malernee dvm
    Fla lic 1820

  23. I just wish lie detectors worked so we could put these quacks on one and see if they truly believe they are doing these ridiculous things. I read a “confession of an iridologist” on QuackWatch, and he seemed to at first believe but then realized how full of it he was. He talked of a colleague who would look in the eyes, then crack the back, and then look back in the eyes and believe he made some change in the body. Sigh.

  24. art malernee dvm says:

    I just wish lie detectors worked so we could put these quacks on one>>>>>

    I wish we could first use the bs detector on the veterinarians who refused to publish this article in any of my veterinary journals . Can the letters of rejection from the journals be published?
    Art Malernee dvm

  25. okjhum says:

    Thank you Art Malernee for the good idea – we shall publish the rejections, one post per journal.
    We first submitted or article to the Equine Veterinary Journal, because they had published two articles about animal chiropractic fairly recently:

    1. Gomez Alvarez, C.B., et al., Effect of chiropractic manipulations on the kinematics of back and limbs in horses with clinically diagnosed back problems. Equine Vet J, 2008. 40(2): p. 153-9.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&dopt=Citation&list_uids=18089466
    2. Sullivan, K.A., A.E. Hill, and K.K. Haussler, The effects of chiropractic, massage and phenylbutazone on spinal mechanical nociceptive thresholds in horses without clinical signs. Equine Vet J, 2008. 40(1): p. 14-20.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&dopt=Citation&list_uids=18083655

    Both of these articles are chiropractor-friendly and neither is of very high scientific rigour. For example, Sullivan &al used an activator instrument (sic!) on healthy horses in an unblinded study with three treatment groups and two strange control groups (ridden instead of sham treatment), and concluded that “Chiropractic treatment and massage therapy increased spinal MNTs within horses not exhibiting signs of lumbar pain.”
    (MNTs = mechanical nociceptive thresholds)

    Our article was rejected within hours of submission (mainly time-zone lag only), as if it was a reflexive rejection because of our chiro-critical stance. We found the motivation quite contradictory in the light of the above-mentioned articles. Here is the mail in extenso:

    cmm@evj.co.uk wrote:
    > 06-Apr-2011
    >
    > Dear Dr. Kjellin:
    >
    > Thank you for submitting manuscript # EVJ-GA-11-198 entitled “An Appraisal of Veterinary Chiropractic” to Equine Veterinary Journal.
    >
    > Unfortunately your manuscript is not suitable for publication in Equine Veterinary Journal. Equine Veterinary Journal aims to publish articles that will either directly influence and improve clinical practice and/or add substantially to the scientific knowledge that underpins and supports veterinary medicine in relation to the horse.
    >
    > Your manuscript has been assessed by our internal editorial team and is has been concluded that, while the topic is of interest to some of our readers, the article is not suitable for publication in our Journal because the data and/or conclusions are not of sufficient impact to achieve these exacting goals.
    >
    > I appreciate that you will be disappointed by this assessment but I hope that you will appreciate our prompt decision.
    >
    > Please note that as your manuscript has not undergone external peer review, you will not be expected to pay our manuscript submission fee.
    >
    >
    > Thank you for considering Equine Veterinary Journal for the publication of your research. I hope the outcome of this specific submission will not discourage you from the submission of future manuscripts.
    >
    > Sincerely,
    > Dr. Celia Marr
    > Editor, Equine Veterinary Journal
    > cmm@evj.co.uk

  26. okjhum says:

    The second submisson was to The Veterinary Journal.

    TVJL wrote:
    > Ms. No. YTVJL-D-11-00452
    > An Appraisal of Veterinary Chiropractic
    > The Veterinary Journal
    >
    >
    > Dear Dr Kjellin,
    >
    > Thank you for submitting your manuscript to The Veterinary Journal.
    >
    > I regret to have to advise you that the editors have decided that this paper is not appropriate for publication in TVJL.
    >
    > I am sorry not to have been of greater help to you.
    >
    > Yours sincerely,
    >
    > Dr Andrew Higgins BVetMed MSc PhD FSB MRCVS
    > Editor-in-Chief
    > The Veterinary Journal
    >
    > Editorial Office Web Portal: http://www.ees.elsevier.com/ytvjl
    > ___________________________________________________________
    >
    > This article may be of greater interest to a journal such as JSAP or the Veterinary Record.
    > Kind regards
    > AJH
    >
    >

  27. okjhum says:

    The third and final submission was to JAVMA, the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, who also rejected it fairly quickly. After that we gave up, because rewriting and adapting the manuscipt for yet another paper is quite tedious. So, on Dr. Harriet Hall’s suggestion, we chose to submit it to Scientific Based Medicine. We also decided that this even may lead to wider and quicker dissipation of the message as well as to more open critical scrutiny by the readership, not necessarily less worth than conventional peer review.

    rseymour@avma.org wrote:
    > 20-Dec-2011
    >
    > RE: JAVMA-11-12-0649, “An Appraisal of Courses in Veterinary Chiropractic”
    >
    > Dear Dr. Kjellin:
    >
    > Thank you for submitting your manuscript to the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. The manuscript was carefully considered by the editors, and unfortunately, the it was not appropriate for this journal. Therefore, we will not be proceeding with publication.
    >
    > I hope that the outcome of this specfic submission will not discourage you from submitting other manuscripts in the future.
    >
    > Sincerely,
    >
    > Rosemarie Seymour, D.V.M., Ph.D.
    > Assistant Editor, Publications Division
    > American Veterinary Medical Association
    > …

  28. rwk says:

    @okjhum
    Does Ragnvi E. Kjellin, DVM even exist or have you made him or her up ? Doing an
    internet search reveals numerous pieces written by the “two” of you. Funny thing is that a separate
    search only reveals Olle Kjellin, MD, PhD and absolutely nothing about or by Ragnvi E. Kjellin, DVM .
    So who really wrote this authoritative article okjhum, you or “Ragnvi”?
    Something fishy going on I think.

  29. okjhum says:

    rwk, :) You are a funny troll, aren’t you? Do you even exist? :)

  30. GLaDOS says:

    I’m told when the chiropractors in my area work on horses, they use a 2X4.

    A number of my coworkers see chiropractors regularly. They say, “A physical therapist costs more and they’re gonna make me do exercises that hurt. A massage therapist isn’t going to be covered by insurance, and they’re a mixed bag. So that’s why I’d go to a chiropractor. Yeah, maybe I’d get better on my own. But the adjustments makes me feel better faster.”

    I think it’s reasonable to believe the chiros are helping with a type of back problem characterized by muscle tension and acute pain. I wish they’d focus on that, on figuring out what it is they do that helps the most and forget the other bs like thermography and anti-drug campaigning.

    I wish the PTs would do more hands-on manual therapy for people with acute strain who want that type of intervention, so people wouldn’t feel the need to seek out chiros.

  31. art malernee dvm says:

    I’m told when the chiropractors in my area work on horses, they use a 2X4.>>>>

    Do they hit them with the 2×4 on the back like they do with the hammers or do they lay the board across the back perpendicular and have two people hang on the ends to “adjust”the back?

    Art Malernee dvm

  32. okjhum says:

    What is a 2×4?

  33. A “2×4″ is the standard size of a wooden board used for construction purposes. The 2×4 is supposed to be two of the dimensions for the board, with the unstated dimension being the length. These numbers only apply to rough cut wood, because once its dried and planed, the actual dimensions are 1.5″ x 3.5″.

    The only use a chiropractor has with a 2×4 is to hopefully construct a crucifix and hang themselves from it for being obnoxious quacks. Who knows, they’d probably market it as “wood therapy.”

  34. rwk says:

    @okjhum
    Skepticalhealth is the best example of a troll on this site. Nothing but inflammatory comments.

  35. rwk says:

    @okjhum
    although since he claims to be a MD, there’s little chance of him being banned from this site.

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