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Case Studies

The following article was published on August 2, 2008 in the Oakville Beaver. The article features Dr. Fleet and the chiropractic care he provides to animals.  Click here to read it.
 
Following is an article published in the 2007 Horse Annual featuring Dr. Fleet and equine client, "Echo"
 
Echo is a ten-year-old Appaloosa mare hunter and dressage horse that was successfully treated with equine chiropractic after limited success using traditional veterinary medicine.  Showing considerable lameness after warming up for a show in October of 2004, she was nerve-blocked and fluoroscoped two weeks later. Results showed a bone spur on the outside of the coffin joint of her right foot.  A regime of glucosamine and MSM proved unsuccessful and she was started on an oral hylaronic acid in June of 2005, which helped considerably. Throughout the fall of 2005 she suffered intermittent lameness until December of 2005 when she again went dead lame. Her owner suspected that it may be something other than the right foot. Plain films and nerve blocks were performed, which confirmed her thoughts that it may have been a shoulder problem. A diagnosis of chronic bilateral bursitis was given with the right shoulder being worse than the left, possibly from a splaying of the legs after slipping in the field.  Injecting the bursa on the right shoulder brought soundness on the right leg but also made it apparent that she was lame in the left shoulder. At this point the owner decided to give chiropractic a try and called my office.
 
Observing the symptons
 
When observing Echo during the initial examination it was apparent that she was in some discomfort by the way that she carried herself. Her head was slightly dropped and she carried it to the right. There was hypertrophy or muscle tightness in both shoulders especially visible on the right side, where the muscle was bunched just above the shoulder blade. She was also quite sensitive to touch in this area with palpation on the right side of the withers causing her to move away from the stimulus. She also exhibited soreness and poor range of motion in her left brachiocephalicus muscle, which runs along the left lower neck area down towards her sternum or breastbone. Palpation of the sternum exhibited concerned looks from the patient.
 
When lunging Echo it was quite apparent that she had trouble going to the left. She would start off gingerly with her head dropped and eventually warm up to look a little better but still not look very good.  Lack of motion was found in the poll area on the right side and part way down her neck on the same side. Her scapula on the right side was pulled towards her withers, which helped explain the large muscle knots between the scapula and the withers. Both shoulder joints had moved forward and slightly down and her left knee was exhibiting restriction. As well there was restriction of the joints in the withers and in the right hip.
 
Treating with adjustments and stretching
 
Injuries caused by slips and falls in the paddocks are quite common in horses. Unlike humans, horses have no bony connection in their shoulder joints but instead are held together by a sling of muscle. When a horse slips and a front leg splays out it can cause a stretching of one or all of the nerves that exit between the bones in the lower neck called the brachial plexus. This type of injury will cause the muscles in the area to go into spasm, the body’s defence mechanism against movement and further injury. Conventional forms of treatment, like injections, mask this response allowing the horse to move seemingly without pain, which can cause more long-tem damage.
 
Echo was treated with chiropractic adjustments along with her stretches recommended for therapy in between visits. After the first visit it was observed that the muscle bunching above the right shoulder blade was decreased in size and after a few visits no pain response was elicted with palpation. The tenderness in the brachiocepalicus muscle also improved and there was more range of motion in the front left shoulder and knee area. As well, palpation of the sternum eventually created no negative response at all.
 
Over the course of treatment lunging to the left became easier when by the fourth visit it was observed that there was intermittent periods of smoothness. Stretching out when gaiting also was observed. After the second month a very good sign was reported when Echo felt well enough to jump the paddock fence. Treatment continued and by the end of June Echo was almost at 100 per cent. Echo has been seen twice since that time for follow-up visits and as of August was doing very well.
 
Echo was seen ten times between January 27th and August 10th. She continues to be seen periodically for maintenance visits.  Her treatment went was successful in good part due to the diligence of her owner and her willingness to follow through with treatment recommendations and to implement the stretches and suggestions given to her.
 
As of the writing of this article Echo is getting back in shape.  Her attitude has returned and she is jumping a little during training rides once a week." *
 
With thanks to Nancy Hampson and Echo
 
    Harbourview Family Chiropractic
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