I get a lot of questions about the specifics of what I do as an animal chiropractor. For the most part, I am a brainstem specialist. That means that I examine the skull and neck vertebra that would affect the brain stem function. There are 300 trillion nerves that communicate from the brain to the body for health, movement and blood circulation. When the skull and/or first vertebra, the atlas, is misaligned, this interferes with the communication process. This always affects the musculature from the poll to the pelvis. In the brainstem there are two muscle centers, one muscle center tells the paraspinal muscles to relax, the other tells them to contract. When the brainstem is clear from misalignment, these two muscle centers work in harmony and the body has balance and correct range of motion in all vertebra/pelvis, sacrum and legs.
Animal Chiropractic Fixes Misalignment
When there is an upper neck misalignment (a subluxation), the muscle center that tells the paraspinal musculature to relax gets inhibited. Thus, the control center that tells muscles to contract is unopposed and the entire top-line of the body is effected. An animal could experience muscle tightness, soreness and look abnormally arched in the mid-back. And we know that muscles move bones, so any other spinal vertebra will and can misalign including all the way to the hips and sacrum. This can cause pain, inflammation, loss of normal movement anywhere and abnormal muscle thinning, especially in the rear legs. To compensate for abnormal pelvic movement and rear leg weakness the body weight goes forward and the animal will experience restricted shoulder movement.
In the brainstem there are also control centers for respiration, heart, appetite, sexuality and the control for arterial dilation, which is needed for appropriate healing and muscle movement and health. The vestibular apparatus (inner ear) has responsibility for body balance and coordination, so it’s important that the head is properly placed. Also important is the vagus nerve which exits the jugular foramen at the bottom of the skull. Looking at the head position I can usually predict if there is a digestion issue. The vagus nerve is in charge of the parasympathetic activity for all internal organs except the adrenal glands. By having a cleared brainstem, the parasympathetic (involuntary, calming) nervous system communicates and harmonizes well with the sympathetic (involuntary, fight or flight) nervous system. So if an animal is more anxious or having cranky behavior or just not right emotionally, this can be helped by an adjustment. Having a cleared brainstem helps all aspects of a well-functioning body.
Physically More Healthy and Happy
By looking at the head position and feeling the first cervical vertebrae, I can usually predict which hip will have less range of motion. Another common test with dogs is folding the paws under which is called conscious proprioception (cp) test. After the alignment of the skull and atlas vertebrae, there is an immediate change/ relaxation of the back muscles. And it improves the cp test. The pelvis moves freely and the shoulders have easy, normal range of motion. I pay attention to all angles of the anatomy and use only the right momentum that is needed for the adjustment to occur. The result is a much healthier and happier pet.