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What is Veterinary Medical Manipulation?  

Veterinary Medical Manipulation (VMM) is a manual therapy that uses High Velocity, Low Amplitude (HVLA) thrusts to remove restrictions in articulating segments of the body.  In layman's terms, we use a quick, small action to restore appropriate range of motion within a joint.


What is a restriction?

A restriction is a loss of range of motion within a joint.  We use motion palpation to find restrictions within the joints.  Restrictions are very small and are found only through motion palpation.  They cannot be seen on radiographs or other diagnostic images.  


Why are restrictions a negative thing?

Effects of a restriction can have local effects, neurological effects as well as compensatory effects.  Locally, a restriction can cause cartilage degeneration and pain.  Neurologically, a restriction can cause a loss of input to the cortex of the brain leading to altered output.  Compensatory effects of a restriction can cause adjacent muscles to become spastic leading to more tension on the tendon.  This can lead to more injuries within the joint.


Is VMM the same as chiropractic?  

Yes and no.  VMM is specific to veterinarians who manipulate the spine and joints.  Chiropractors are medical professionals who went to chiropractic school for 4+ years.  While our manipulations are similar, our titles are not.  There are a few other differences too as far as how we perform our manipulations.  


Can my human chiropractor manipulate my pet?

The State of Ohio is very clear about when a human chiropractor can perform manipulation on a pet.  A human chiropractor must have completed training in animal chiropractic and hold a valid certification from a veterinary chiropractic association or college.  


Are those videos I see on social media how Dr. Jo will manipulate my pet?

That is a hard no!  Those videos are extremely terrifying to watch.  The “techniques” used are not taught at any veterinary medical manipulation institution in the United States due to their dangerous nature; not only to the pet, but the manipulator too!  


Do manipulations hurt? 

There are joints, such as the TMJ and the joint between the skull and the first cervical vertebra that can be sensitive when palpated.  There could be muscle tightness or high number of nerve receptors in the area, but overall a manipulation should not be painful.  If we find muscles are tight, we can use acupuncture or therapeutic laser to relax these muscles prior to manipulating the patient.


When are manipulations indicated?

Every pet could benefit from an exam to determine if they have restrictions.  Sporting animals, such as those that perform agility, fast CAT, lure coursing, fly ball, etc. are especially susceptible to restrictions due to their activity.  Pets that do not perform these sports, but are clumsy or have taken a spill can be examined to determine if there are restrictions.  Even young, “normal” pets can have restrictions.  


When are manipulations contraindicated?

Caution should be taken in aging and severely arthritic patients.  Manipulations can lead to temporary pain and lethargy afterwards.  Sometimes the motion palpation is enough to help these patients.  If a fracture or a slipped disc or “hot” disc is suspected, these patients should not be manipulated near these areas. Manipulations can be performed in other areas of the body if restrictions are present.

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