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Chiropractic Care & Back Problems: Home Treatment Tips

Chiropractic Care & Back Problems: Home Treatment Tips

Chiropractic care…do you use it? Lately, I’ve been having some back issues, and have been visiting my chiropractor for some relief. Chiropractic care works as well in pets as in people, too, and my situation makes me wonder if in some ways I might be mirroring Magical-Dawg’s health issues. I’ve not blogged since his birthday post here, that explains a bit about his status with possible DM. He’s having weakness in his left rear leg. My issue is with my entire left side. Hmnnnn.


About a month ago, the lower left side of my back and abdomen became numb. How odd, I thought, and attributed it to over-doing yard work. (I love my chain saw!). But when my left thigh also became numb by the end of the week, I started to worry. So, I visited my chiropractor, had Xrays done, and a week’s worth of treatments and therapy. There’s no pain, thank doG, but just this constant aggravating skin-surface-numbness. After a week with no improvement–and the numbness moving further to encompass my entire left leg–my chiropractor referred me for an MRI.

Stay with me here–I’ll get to veterinary chiropractic in a moment. *s* But I wanted to explain why I’ve not posted for a while.

veterinary MRI chiropractic care

Pets benefit from MRIs, too


MRIs are scary. Noisy, claustrophobic, and sort of a “woo-woo” diagnosis. When we perform MRI’s on pets, they’re given anesthesia so they can hold still for the 20 minutes or so necessary. I was also given ear covers (it’s NOISY!). At least pets don’t think about praying the radiologists DO find something that’s fix-able, and DON’T find anything that doesn’t belong there. I’ll admit, I was scared. My husband took off work and drove me to the center, we had to wait several hours (hey, they got me in the same day, so I wasn’t complaining!), and even got the scans on a CD-disk when we left. The next morning, my chiropractor explained the radiologists report and showed me the MRI results.

I have two bulging disks, categorized as “mild.” One affects my leg, the other my left lower torso. One of them is partially collapsed, too. Oy. The good news is that word “mild.” The other good news–nothing inside that didn’t belong there. 🙂 It will take time, perhaps a long time, for the disks to heal, and in the meantime, I’m performing some core-strengthening exercises, walking a LOT on my desk-treadmill, and continuing chiropractic treatment.

Amy Shojai holding cat

Karma-Kat makes sure I don’t sit at the desk for too long.


I’ve blogged about holistic pet care before here. Chiropractic care for pets is a great option for keeping canine athletes in top performance form. Bodywork treatments can benefit your cats and dogs not only for recovery from injury, but also prevention of problems by including massage, physical therapy and chiropractic adjustments. While massage focuses on the tissues surrounding the bones, manipulative therapies focus on the proper functioning of the joints and related muscles, including the spine.

pet holistic medicineHolistic veterinarians say appropriate adjustments can affect your pet’s emotions, as well as how the organs work, due to what he calls viscera-somatic, or “organ-to-muscle” reflex. I know that my back issues affect my emotions—I’ve been very worried about this. And for our dogs and cats, the discomfort of any illness can make things worse.

Both science and holistic methods work hand-in-paw with these hands-on modalities both in people and in pets. For example, when I hurt my back, my chiropractor required X-rays to be sure what was going on before attempting any adjustments, and followed that up with an MRI. And while a human chiropractor can’t prescribe drugs (unless also an M.D.), a chiropractor with a veterinary degree can incorporate medications to help.


Manipulative therapies carefully flex the affected joints to return them to proper alignment, and treatment plants are customized to the individual pet. It may take only one “adjustment” or instead require several. The longer the problem has existed, the more treatments will be necessary. Chiropractic manipulations (especially of the spine) require a trained veterinary chiropractor because it can be very easy to injure your pet unless you know what you’re doing.

Physical therapy techniques, though, can be performed by you at home to help loosen up your canine athlete’s stiff legs, shoulders and necks. Hey, I’m doing similar for my own achy-breaky-back issues. Movement increases joint mobility, and also stimulates production of synovial fluid, a joint fluid that nourishes and lubricates the joints to keep them healthy. Be careful not to over-extend a muscle or joint, though, and pay attention to your pet if he tells you to stop. Flinching or crying out during physical therapy means to stop and have a vet check out the pet for any problems.


There are some easy to use physical therapy techniques you can do at home with your pet.  This probably will work better with dogs than with cats—felines have their own way of performing kitty yoga and may not want your help!

  • Put your pet on his side.
  • Take his front paw in one hand and his elbow with your other. For the back leg, you’ll hold the paw and hock instead.
  • Move the leg in a circle, as if he’s running—forward, out, down and back.
  • Stretch the leg with this gentle pressure only as much as the pup will tolerate, and keep going for about five minutes (or until the put tells you to stop) before you switch to the next leg.
  • You’ll need to have him rest on his other side to do the other two legs.


A chiropractic technique called motion palpation can be safely done at home for your cats and dogs. Motion palpation helps flex and extend the joints of the back. It can have an additive effect, so that even tiny amounts done daily help pets feel better over the long term. It’s particularly helpful for creaky older dogs, but even athletic pups will enjoy and benefit from this gentle treatment that keeps them flexible and may help prevent injury.

  • Ask your dog to stand or lie down in a comfy position.
  • Feel for the individual vertebrae, the bumpy bones in the dog’s back. Pay particular attention to the dents or “valleys” between each bone.
  • Start at your pet’s neck, right where his skull meets the spine. Position your thumb and index finger on each side of the first dent between the first vertebrae and his skull. Press down very gently with your fingers, and release.
  • Then move to the next dip, and repeat the quick gentle pressure—each press shouldn’t take more than one second, so you can count, “One-one-thousand” and then move on.
  •  Continue to move downward from his furry head toward his wagging tail, pressing each “valley” in turn and then releasing.


There have been other “projects” keeping me busy besides the back issues (more on that soon!). Hands-on therapies can enormously benefit cats and dogs. It can also help you stay “in touch” with your furry family members.

Now when I get down on the floor to perform my exercises (my fav is called the CAT-CAMEL!), I have Karma-Kat at one end grabbing my shoe, and Magical-Dawg at the other licking my face. But who’s complaining? It’s just part of the furry therapy.

Have you or your pet ever suffered an injury and received help from a chiropractor? What helped your situation resolve the problem? Some of my Facebook friends shared tips with me, including a recommendation for the book BACK MECHANIC, and I’m finding the text very helpful.

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