Cindy and Coco

Cindy and Coco

On September 20, 2017 Coco accidentally got closed in the garage door. She was rushed to the vet, and fortunately did not have anything broken but did not have use of her back legs. She had feeling in both hind legs and her tail. Her tail had movement! We brought her home with anti inflammatory medication. I started daily massage. One week from the accident I started chiropractic, acupuncture, and magnawave with Dr. Christine. The first video is the day after her first treatment. She showed wonderful improvement, being able to stand and walk. The last video is of her today with full movement! Coco received 3 chiropractic, acupuncture, and magnawave treatments. I am so thankful for Dr. Christine for helping my Coco, who is 14 years old return to a normal life!
Thank you for all you do for my fur babies!!
Cindy Miller

Chiropractic Care for Your Pet

The goal of animal chiropractic care is helping the animal feel its best without the use of drugs and other pharmaceutical products. Chiropractic care focuses on restoring proper motion to the spinal column and limbs. This helps the nervous system work optimally, promotes healthy organ function, and aids the peak performance of connective tissues (muscles, tendons, ligaments).  Chiropractic care is an important part of the wellness healthcare of an animal.


A chiropractic evaluation involves a thorough examination of the animal. First, I analyze the posture of an animal. How is it standing? Does it bear weight equally on all four legs?  Is the muscling of the animal symmetrical on both sides?  Next, I watch the animal move and analyze its gait. Is the animal moving balanced or is it stiff going one direction versus the other? Is the animal stiff or sore on a limb?  Then, I place my hands on the animal and palpate for tight muscles or areas of soreness.  Is a joint stiff or is there abnormal swelling anywhere? A very important part of the examination is motion palpation of the vertebral column and limbs. If a vertebral subluxation is found on the motion palpation then a chiropractic adjustment is performed.

What is a vertebral subluxation?

A joint subluxation in veterinary medical terms is much different than a subluxation in chiropractic terms. Merriam-Webster defines a medical subluxation, as a “partial dislocation (as of one of the bones in a joint).” The exact definition depends on the anatomical part that is involved. A chiropractic subluxation is a spinal misalignment and the misalignment is small, barely millimeters. The spinal misalignment leads to joint dysfunction which can be too much motion, or not enough motion. The improper motion at the vertebral spaces can lead to nerve dysfunction where the nerve is being pinched. This causes improper firing of nerve signals and can lead to tight, sore, painful muscles.

So what does a chiropractic adjustment involve?

It is a short lever (close to the misalignment) high velocity controlled thrust by a hand or an instrument at a specific location with a specific line of drive. One very important aspect of the adjustment is that one joint is adjusted at a time.  This is for the safety of the animal and also the safety of the practitioner doing the adjustment.  I am often asked, “How can anyone adjust a large animal such as a horse, cow or a large dog?” I reply, “One joint at a time!” With animal chiropractic care, the practitioner is not adjusting the entire animal at one time, but rather they are adjusting the relative position of two bones at a joint articulation.

Who We Serve

In my animal chiropractic practice, I see typically three types of patients: older, geriatric animals, athletic performance animals, and injured or post-surgery patients. I often see geriatric patients that have neck, back, and joint pain due to arthritis or other chronic conditions.  My goal is to help them feel and move better, so that they have more good days than bad days in their golden years.

The athletic patients often come to me if their performance starts to decline. Perhaps they are refusing jumps, dropping bars, moving stiffly going one direction versus the other, or acting grumpy when being saddled. If I can examine and treat a patient early when the signs first begin to show, I have a better chance of getting them feeling and moving better before that small soreness turns into a major lameness.

I also see injured patients to help with their rehabilitation. For example, if an animal is injured in its left hind leg, they will often compensate with the front limbs, neck, back, and/or the other hind limb. By realigning the spine and balancing the body with a chiropractic treatment, the animal may have a faster and more complete recovery.

Why Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic care plays a valuable role in the maintenance of an animal’s overall health and performance. While there is a time and a place to use more traditional approaches to veterinary care, chiropractic can help the animal move more balanced, release tight nerves, and optimize the function of many organ systems in the body.   Chiropractic care can be another important part of your animal’s wellness program to a healthy life.

Interested in Learning More About How Chiropractic Care Can Help Your Pet? Contact Us!

What can I expect during an appointment?

Follow Star, a rescued Greyhound, through her appointment with Dr. Christine Woodford. Star was very weak in the hind end and thin when rescued. See her run and play after three treatments. Read the Synergy article to learn more about the power of chiropractic, acupuncture and Magna Wave. Visit us on Instagram or Facebook and ‘like and share” our page!

Cash the Trick Horse

Cash is a trick horse in training with his owner, Kacy. He is learning how to carry her weight and support them both. Trick horses endure lots of pulling on their withers, back and hips. Dr. Christine’s chiropractic and acupuncture treatments help Cash feel pain free and healthy.

Synergy of Animal Chiropractic, Acupuncture and Magnawave Therapy

1+1+1= synergy. Synergy is “the interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.

I have witnessed the synergy of the therapies that I use to treat animals in my practice. Namely, I use chiropractic, acupuncture, and magnawave therapies on most of my small animal patients with obscure neurologic conditions. Although I do use each of the therapies individually, I have noticed particularly impressive results when I have employed them in combination.

I want to share a success story with you about Hooch, a 4 year old boxer, who benefited from the synergy of regular veterinary medicine, integrative therapies, and good cooperation on the part of his owners. The first time I saw Hooch, he was not using his left hind leg correctly. He had no proprioception in that foot; thus, he was not bearing weight on the bottom of his foot. His toes were knuckling over and he had sores on the top part of his toes from dragging his leg behind him. The owners reported that two weeks prior Hooch had been playing outside with his housemate, a French Bulldog, and came in non-weight bearing on his left, hind leg. They took Hooch to their regular veterinarian and the X rays showed no broken bones. Their veterinarian suspected a pinched nerve and recommended anti-inflammatories and rest for 2 weeks. Unfortunately, Hooch did not improve during that time frame. At that point, their veterinarian recommended my services for the nerve damage.

On the first visit, I treated Hooch with acupuncture, magnawave and mild chiropractic adjustments since we suspected a pinched nerve. I also recommended some stretching and range of motion exercises that the owners could do at home. Five days later, Hooch came back to my office and we saw some improvement. He was able to correct his toe placement about every 3 steps.The owners were very happy with his progress and we continued with the same therapeutic protocol.

The next week, the owners came back with Hooch whose condition was greatly improved. He placed his foot correctly 90% of the time.

One week later, I saw Hooch again and he actually wanted to run and play!

Hooch still has some movement and nerve deficits in the left hind leg, but he is placing the foot more correctly, the sores on the top part of his toes have healed, and his muscles in the hindquarters are more developed. I recommended short, controlled, leash walks, supervised socialization time with his housemate, and rest for the next month. Additionally, Hooch will receive the three therapies every two to three weeks. Thereafter, assuming Hooch continues to improve, we will maintain him with monthly treatments. Hooch’s progress is a testament to the efficacy of acupuncture, magnawave and chiropractic therapy on neurologic conditions, generally, and the synergetic effects that result when we use the three therapies together.

I am grateful for Hooch’s dedicated owners who are committed to continuing with his therapy and at home exercises. It is rewarding to be able to provide effective therapeutic services for animals, similar to Hooch, with obscure nerve or movement conditions that are difficult to diagnose and treat. The synergistic effects of chiropractic, acupuncture, and magnawave therapies have helped me treat several animals with movement issues. As a veterinarian, it is gratifying to have access to therapies that help restore injured animals’ functionality, fully in some cases, and partially in others, and enable them to lead happy, active lives.

Chiropractic Treatments

In recent years the use of alternative therapies in equine medicine has almost doubled. Therapeutic options such as Acupuncture and chiropractic performed by properly trained individuals can complement the treatment protocol and aid in the getting the horse back to optimal health and performance.

The majority of lameness issues that we see in our equine practice are caused by lower limb abnormalities. However when a horse is lame, they will start to carry themselves differently in order to “get off” the sore limb. In doing so, they use different back muscles and neck muscles. Depending on how long this goes on, several areas of the animal can begin to hurt. It is just like if we were to drop a heavy object on the big toe of our left foot. The toe is the number one source of pain. If we had to continue to walk on that sore toe, we would compensate by putting more weight on our right hip, back, shoulders, and neck. If we did this for very long, soon the pain in our sore toe may be gone, but we are left with very sore muscles and joints in other areas of our bodies. In most cases anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen do not alleviate all the pain and we are left with stomach ulcers from too many non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. This can also happen to our horse patients. It is a little difficult for them to tell us exactly where things hurt. But if we look, there are some subtle signs.

Horses with conditions that might respond to chiropractic treatment can display some of the following signs:

  • Loss or decrease in level of performance;
  • Reduced neck or back flexibility;
  • Localized muscle tightness;
  • Uneven or asymmetric gait;
  • Recent change in spinal conformation (such as an arched back, scoliosis (curve), or sway back);
  • Discomfort with saddle placement or tightening of the cinch or girth;
  • Stiffness and more warm-up needed;
  • Behavioral changes (refusals, cinchy, bucking)
  • Lameness only when ridden;
  • Difficulty with a lead or gait transition;
  • Consistently stumbling and/or toe dragging;
  • Muscle mass asymmetry;
  • Pelvic asymmetry;
  • Not standing squarely on all four limbs;
  • Difficulty standing for the farrier;
  • Holding the tail to one side;

If the horse is showing one or more of these signs, it may be in need of a chiropractic adjustment. The horse should have a full lameness and health examination by a licensed veterinarian. If the condition has been a long progressive process, sometimes the original source of pain is gone (just like our sore toe!). However, if the horse has been compensating for the pain, he may be left with specific sore areas in his back, hips, shoulders, ribs, and neck. At this point a chiropractic adjustment may be necessary. You should follow the advice of you veterinarian and only seek help from an individual who has been properly trained in the chiropractic methods for animals.

In 1989, a program called Options for Animals was started in Illinois. This program is available to licensed veterinarians or chiropractors. The program has grown and developed to its own campus now located south of Kansas City. It consists of over 210 hours of classroom and hands on training of horses and small animals. After each of the five, five day long sessions, there is a written and practical examination. When participants have completed the course, they are eligible to become certified by the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association. This association was started to supervise individuals who perform animal chiropractic. Beware of imitations! There may be people out there that say they are trained in animal chiropractic. However, there are some very specific moves and techniques and if not properly employed, can cause permanent damage.

Lower back pain in horses


Have you ever bent over and suddenly been unable to stand up straight from lower back pain? Have you ever woken up, rolled over and thought “ouch” this isn’t going to be a very good day, as the pain radiates from your lower back down your leg to behind your knee? Lower back pain affects our quality of life and our job performance. It affects your horse’s life and performance as well.

We are able to share our symptoms of lower back pain with our family, friends and medical professionals. How do our horses share their symptoms? If we listen, they are trying to tell us. Some of the outwards signs would include: lack of drive from their hindquarters, hind end lameness that is hard to diagnose, tenderness to the touch over the rump, and not wanting to round or lift the back while being worked. If your horse has some of these symptoms, what can you do to diagnose and treat them? First understand how horses’ backs function.



Figure 1. Drawing of the equine vertebral column within the horse’s body. Reprinted with permission from the illustrator Dr. Robin Peterson.

The horse’s vertebral column is made up of approximately 54 vertebrae that surround and protect the horse’s spinal cord (Fig.1). Starting at the poll area of a horse there are 7 cervical (neck) vertebrae and 18 thoracic (chest) vertebrae. Each thoracic vertebra has a rib attachment. In the lower back, most horse have 6 lumbar vertebrae, except for some “short backed” Arabians that only have 5 lumbar vertebrae. The sacrum is made up of 5 fused vertebrae. The last set of coccygeal (tail) vertebrae can range in number from 5-18 depending on the breed and tail length of the horse. The sacrum and the ilium (part of the pelvis) are attached together at the sacroiliac joint (Fig 2.). This joint is the link between the hind limb extremities and the spine in a horse. The sacroiliac joint sustains high loading force during athletic activity and can be the source of low back pain in horses.


figure2Figure 2. Picture of an equine skeletal model from behind showing the pelvis, sacroiliac joint, and the coxofemoral (hip) joint.

Signs of sacroiliac pain in horse may include poor performance or lack of hind end impulsion. Horses with this problem also have had mild, chronic hind end lameness that is difficult to diagnose and does not resolve with traditional lower leg joint blocks or therapy. In a necropsy survey of 36 Thoroughbred racehorses, all specimens had various degrees of arthritis in their sacroiliac joint.1 In fact 92% of the specimens had moderate to severe degenerative changes in the pelvic area. To determine if the horse has a problem in the pelvis or sacroiliac region, a thorough physical and soundness exam should be performed by a veterinarian. The lameness exam should be started at the lower leg, proceed with joint flexions, diagnostic nerve or joint blocks, radiographs, ultrasound scan, and possibly nuclear bone scintigraphy. If a pelvic problem is suspected, one must determine if it is the primary cause of lameness or if the pain secondary to another sore area. More often than not, sore muscles or “trigger points” in the sacroiliac region are due to compensation of pain elsewhere in the body and are not a “true” pelvic problem. Keeping this in mind, a comprehensive lameness diagnostic exam is crucial.


figure3Figure 3. Nuclear Bone Scintigraphy scan of a horse with increased rate of absorption of the isotope in the left sacroiliac joint.

Nuclear bone scintigraphy is the best way to diagnose pelvic problems. This is a non-invasive technique in which the horse is given an intravenous injection of a radioactive isotope. The whole horse is scanned to see where the isotope is taken up by the horse’s skeleton (Fig. 3). The most painful areas have in increased rate of absorption of the radioactive isotope and can be detected by the scan.2 This procedure has a high percentage of detecting a pelvic problem if there is one.

The sacroiliac region also involves several ligaments and soft tissue structures. An ultrasound scan of the area may detect bone and ligament injuries. This technique is also non-invasive. It requires high level ultrasound skills, high quality machine and probe, and knowledge of the pelvic bone and soft tissue anatomy. The veterinarian should scan the external pelvic structures and also perform an internal rectal ultrasound exam.

Radiographs of the pelvis may also be performed depending on the size of the horse. In some smaller or young horses, with less muscle, the coxofemoral (hip) joint can be x-rayed standing. However most pelvis or hip radiographs must be taken under general anesthesia so the horse can be laid on its back. One must always keep in mind that there are always risks involved in putting a horse under or recovering from general anesthesia. These risks are increased in horses with hind end lameness.

Treatment Options

If a pelvic problem is diagnosed, there are some treatment options. Most pelvic problems are managed, however not always cured. A stress fracture of the pelvis as long as there is not major displacement will heal with time. Shockwave therapy can speed healing time. If the pelvis is completely fractured there is a poor prognosis. The sacroiliac area can be can be injected with corticosteroids, sarapin, or other counter-irritants. The joint itself is difficult to inject, however the medication around the area has been shown to provide some pain relief.

Chiropractic and acupuncture therapy can also help this area. When discussing equine chiropractic therapy you may have heard the term subluxation complex. This term means different things to different people. In traditional veterinary medical terms, subluxation is defined as a partial dislocation of a joint. This has a poor prognosis and requires medical and possibly surgical attention. A subluxation complex in chiropractic terms means that the joint surfaces are not in the correct position by millimeters. The joint itself still functions, but not as well. The subluxation complex may also cause impingement of the spinal nerve in that area and thus decrease nervous enervation to the surrounding area. There is loss of normal motion due to pain, muscle spasms, or joint stiffness. Chiropractic therapy involves examining the entire horse to locate subluxation complexes and tight muscle and painful areas. The subluxation complexes are adjusted by delivering a short, sharp thrust with the doctor’s hands or an instrument to a specific joint at a specific angle on the horse’s spine or limbs. One joint is worked on at a time. Many times the doctor must stand on a stool or bale to achieve the correct alignment angle. If the incorrect angle or thrust is applied, great damage can be done to the animal. It is important to make sure that the doctor you have work on your animal is properly trained and certified in animal chiropractic. The chiropractic therapy should be performed by a doctor certified in Animal Chiropractic through the American Veterinary Chiropractic Association. You can locate a qualified doctor in your area by searching the AVCA website at www.animalchiropractic.org. The goal of the chiropractic therapy is to restore normal range of motion in the horse’s vertebral column and limbs, release impinged nerves and thus muscle spasms, and alleviate pain in the animal.

Acupuncture and chiropractic therapy can be mutually enhancing and it is beneficial to integrate both modalities for treating pelvic problems in horses. Equine acupuncture therapy originates from Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine over 3000 years ago. The therapy involves stimulating a particular point on the body with a particular method to produce a therapeutic effect. Acupuncture points are located throughout the body on acupuncture meridians. There are several important and effective acupuncture points around the sacroiliac region of the horse. The overall goal of acupuncture is to stimulate internal anti-inflammatory and pain relief mechanisms to balance the body, facilitate tissue repair and prevent injury or disease. Integrating the various forms of therapy can decrease the possibilities of injuries and optimize the health and performance of our equine athletes.

Recognizing, diagnosing, and treating your horses’ lower back pain is critical to their comfort and to their success as a performance horse.


1. Haussler, KK. Functional Anatomy and Pathophysiology of Sacroiliac Joint Disease. AAEP Proceedings 2004; 50:361-366.

2. Dyson, SJ, Murray, RC, Branch M. Uses and Limitations of Nuclear Scintigraphy for Evaluation of the Sacroiliac Region. AAEP Proceedings 2004; 50:379-384.