Karen Gellman DVM, PhD

Equine Sports Medicine


Is your animal athlete performing its best?  Injury or poor coordination caused by postural abnormalities can adversely affect his or her ability to perform athletic tasks.  Sometimes pain or balance syndromes can be mistaken for behavioral problems.  Postural abnormalities can be caused by injury, conformation or external environmental parameters.  The body’s system of reflexes and compensations can sometimes mask a specific injury.  Or behavioral problems can mask an underlying musculoskeletal issue. Postural Rehabilitation restores the integrity of the neuromuscular system, allowing the animal to perform to its best ability.  This entails manipulative therapy, acupuncture, corrective dentistry and podiatry, and reducing detrimental environmental concerns. 

How do these therapies work?

Non-traditional therapies, such as acupuncture and chiropractic, are now viewed as a helpful adjunct to our modern medical treatments with drugs and surgery.  They are not an alternative to regular veterinary care, but integrate together with modern Western medicine to complement the benefits for your pet.

Acupuncture treatment is part of Traditional Chinese Medicine, a health care system that has been clinically validated for over four thousand years in both humans and animals.  Treatment consists of inserting fine (sterile) steel needles into points in the body that have been shown to exert therapeutic effects.  These include pain relief, neural stimulation, anti-inflammatory effects, and endocrine regulation.  Depending upon the problem, sometimes the needles are accompanied with a warming treatment (moxibustion) or an electrical stimulation (electro-acupuncture).

Chiropractic care is a form of manipulative therapy that has been used since the 1880s.  The founder of chiropractic, B.J. Palmer, theorized that the body’s pain and dysfunction can be due to joint immobility, especially in the joints of the spine, which are very close to the important nerves sending signals to and from the brain.  When these spinal joints lose their normal motion—whether due to injury, stress, or arthritis, their internal tissues become inflamed.  Inflammation causes swelling and invasion of immune mediators—both of which can have detrimental effects on the quality of nerve transmission.  Chiropractic uses small manipulations of specific force and direction to mobilize the joints and restore normal movement.

What can I expect?

Treatments are gentle and minimally invasive, usually causing little, if any discomfort to the pet.  Initially, a short series of weekly treatments is given, until the animal has reached a consistent level of improvement.  Then the treatments are slowly spread out, until the longest possible treatment intervals are determined.  This can vary  depending upon the individual animal and their health problems.  The pet owner will know when their animal needs its treatment again by the return of symptoms.

Treatments are designed to address the metabolic or neurologic imbalances that cause disability, rather than just treat symptoms.  Pets may  become more energetic, more willing to engage in formerly favorite activities, have better appetites. 

Complementary therapies are safe, minimally invasive, have no side effects and can extend your family’s good years with your beloved pet.


    Does Your animal have any of these issues?

  1. Reduced neck or back flexibility

  2. Tail or head held to one   side

  3. Drags one foot

  4. Paces instead of trots

  5. Hypersensitivity to grooming

  6. Uneven gait

  7. Heavy on bit or lead

  8. Refuses jumps

  9. Difficult to shoe or trim toe-nails

  10. Puppy sitting


How can complementary therapies help your animal?

An animal’s environment has an enormous influence on their health