Whenever I prepare to teach animal chiropractic techniques to a class of veterinarians and chiropractors, I'm reminded that nothing else I do better illustrates that the Healing Arts are as much art as they are science.
Teaching chiropractic is one of my real joys in life. I get to help a group of professionals to acquaint, or reacquaint, themselves with the healing power of animals and with the power of healing that chiropractic can offer. It takes a bit of art and science to get the students to where I feel they can really contribute to the holistic health of the animals, as well as to the relationship of those animals to their human caretakers.
My students learn that chiropractic is first and foremost a technique to improve the patient's ability to move, making it easier for the animal to climb stairs, lie down and get up, jump on the couch, bend to lick and clean, walk and run.
By definition, chiropractic is a mechanical science of spinal adjustments that requires an in-depth knowledge of the workings of the spinal vertebrae, pelvic and shoulder bones, and the joints of all four limbs. Because the bones of each species are put together in different ways, chiropractors need to learn the anatomy and kinesiology of four-legged creatures, while veterinarians learn the fundamental aspects of chiropractic technique.
Chiropractic, however, is more than simple mechanical manipulations of the spine and body's joints to help improve an animal's ability to move. When an animal is in alignment—when its spine and other joints are functioning as they were designed to function-other, seemingly unrelated, benefits visit the body. Internal organs may function better. Bellyaches go away, urinary conditions clear up, and ear infections are resolved and skin conditions often disappear. Even behavioral problems may lessen. When an animal hurts because his joints aren't moving correctly, it's only natural for him to be grouchy. To understand why these seemingly unrelated benefits appear, we need a bit of chiropractic philosophy.
Chiropractic is based on the premise that the body possesses an internal system that strives for balance. This internal system is called your 'innate intelligence.' Innate means 'from within' and 'intelligence' refers to organization. Therefore, a body has 'innate intelligence' whose purpose it is to keep it organized. As a result, the body is always doing the best it can to strive for balance under the circumstances provided.
Chiropractors attribute much of the added and sometimes mysterious benefits of chiropractic adjustments to this immeasurable quality, called the animal's innate. When activated, it helps the body to heal itself. Some practitioners liken chiropractic's innate to oriental medicine's chi. Veterinarians, steeped in science, sometimes have a difficult time grasping the significance of an animal's innate, but the innate or chi—or whatever we want to call it—is the very essence of holistic healing.
When dealing with our pets, there is another significant aspect to the art and science of healing: the human-animal bond. I personally feel that this bond's relation to the triad of pet, pet's caretaker, and the animal health practitioner is one of the most significant ingredients of holistic healing.
There's one final part of chiropractic that I find to be very rewarding, both personally and professionally: Chiropractic, when done correctly, requires an intimate contact between the practitioner and the animal, a physical contact that is necessary to stabilize the patient during rapid-thrust adjustments. I see this intimacy as a heart-to-heart connection—one between the patient and myself. It's a connection I lost while I was practicing as a "normal" veterinarian.
It's this heart-to-heart intimacy of holistic medicine in general, and of chiropractic in particular, that makes the practice of holistic medicine so special—for the patient and the practitioner. To understand chiropractic is to understand the art, as well as the science of this important part of holistic veterinary medicine.
Randy Kidd, DVM, PhD