Honors College Thesis

The Effect of Chiropractic Treatment on Biomechanical Imbalances and Pain Response in Horses

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  • Chiropractic treatment is used to reduce stiffness and pain. While more thoroughly studied in humans, it has been shown to be effective in horses, but relatively little evidence exists to quantify the benefits. To address this shortcoming, four methods were used to assess the effects of chiropractic treatment in horses in this study. Pressure algometry was used to assess pain by applying pressure at predetermined landmarks, proximately 10 cm lateral to the midline. The Lameness Locator was used to assess lameness by applying three sensors to the horse to determine relative asymmetry of the poll and croup. Video analysis was used to quantify performance by measuring the hock amplitude throughout the stride as an approximation for hock flexion, and gait evenness was measured by comparing diagonal limb pairs in the trot when the limbs were fully extended. Finally, owner surveys were used to assess general attitude, soreness and willingness to perform. Manually applied chiropractic treatment was effective at increasing mechanical nociceptive thresholds and quality of gait at a trot 6-8 days after treatment. However, it does not appear as though lameness, as detected by the Lameness Locator, changed 6-7 days post-treatment. Furthermore, the owner survey also revealed that owners did not notice a significant change in their horses’ attitude, appetite, soreness, swelling, willingness to perform under saddle or on the ground in hand. Key words: equine, chiropractic, spinal manipulation, gait analysis, lameness locator, pressure algometry
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