What is McTimoney Chiropractic?
The McTimoney technique was developed in the 1950s by John McTimoney, orginally for humans, but he later adapted the technique for use on animals. John McTimoney was believed to be the first chiropractor in Britain to treat animals and it brought a unique insight into the cause of animal dis-ease as well as difficult behaviour and poor performance.
The McTimoney technique is taught by the McTimoney College of Chiropractic, near Oxford, and requires practitioners to study to MSc level in order to qualify. Today, the McTimoney MSc in Animal Manipulation is the only university validated course of its kind in Europe. This is a specialised treatment modality and should only be provided by a qualified and insured practitioner.
The McTimoney method of chiropractic is holistic and concerned with the welfare of the whole body. A McTimoney treatment uses highly effective, gentle physical techniques to realign and balance the animals musculoskeletal system, so optimising the individual's dynamic flexibility and restoring health, movement, soundness and performance. By manipulating any misaligned joints throughout the whole body, with special attention to the spine and pelvis, it allows the nervous system to function optimally and encourages the release of muscular tension.
How does it work?
The spine is made up of a number of bones called vertebrae, each seperated by an intervertebral disc. One of the main functions of the spinal column is to house and protect the spinal cord which, together with the brain, makes up the central nervous system. Peripheral nerves exit the spinal column through spaces between the vertebrae and convey messages from the brain to the organs, muscles and structures of the body. These nerves control everything in the animal's body - from the muscles that control movement, to their ability to feel pain, to the respiratory and digestive systems.
Nerve function can become impaired through muscle spasm and pressure from skeletal misalignments. Each vertebrae has a degree of individual movement and, therefore, has the potential to become 'fixed' or 'stuck' within its normal range of movement but out of alignment with its neighbouring vertebrae. This is what we call a 'misalignment' and it results in reduced range of movement of that joint and reduced space through which the peripheral nerve must travel out of the spinal column. This direct pressure on the nerve from the misalignment or from the tightening the surrounding musculature can impair the function of the nerve, leading to discomfort or pain, muscle spasm, loss of normal function, and compensatory movement patterns. Blood flow can also be affected in the area leading to further muscle spasm.
A McTimoney treatment aims to realign any skeletal misalignments and restore symmetry to the animals musculoskeletal system by applying precise rapid adjustments, using hands only, to release muscle spasm and allow the vertebrae to return to their normal position, restoring their range of motion. Once these subtle misalignments have been corrected, nerve function will be restored and the body will be able to heal itself, restoring health, soundness and performance, decreasing pain and allowing freer movement.
McTimoney is a holistic treatment which means it takes the whole body into account rather than focusing on one area. It is a gentle and non-invasive treatment and is therefore an ethical and respectful way to work with animals; it is readily accepted by most animals and many seem to enjoy it. When combined with massage, stretches and an individually tailored exercise program, optimum health and performance can be restored in your animal.
What to expect from a treatment
History taking - First a detailed history of your animal will be taken, which will include taking details of the animal's medical history, lifestyle and performance. This can help to highlight any previous conditions or injuries which may be relevant to your animal's current issues and can give an insight into possible causes of problems and, therefore, aid in the prevention of problems reoccuring. You will also be required to sign to confirm that veterinary consent has been obtained for the treatment.
Physical Examination - A physical examination will be carried out looking at the animals conformation and assessing any areas of musculoskeltal asymmetry or muscle atrophy. The animal is assessed over the whole body for any areas of tension, discomfort and heat or swelling. Hoof, shoe and claw wear will also be assessed as this can indicate imbalances in the way the animal is moving.
Gait Assessment - Your animal will then be assessed moving in-hand in walk and trot. Horses will also be assessed turning tight circles and stepping backwards. Sometimes it is also necessary to see the horse on the lunge or under saddle for further evaluation. Gait assessment is used to assess the animal for any lameness, abnormal movement, weaknesses or differences in limb placement or flight patterns which can indicate underlying problems or compensatory changes in movement.
Palpation and Treatment - The position of the vertebrae in relation to one another in the neck and back are assessed as well as the symmetry of the pelvis to identify any areas of misalignments and muscle tension and spasm. These joints are then treated with swift light force adjustments to return them to their normal range of motion and function and relieve the associated muscular tension allowing the animals body to begin the healing process and move towards functioning at its optimal level again. Massage and myofascial release techniques are also used to compliment the treatment and further assist in releasing muscle spasms and tension throughout the body.
Aftercare - After treatment you will be given aftercare advice including exercises aimed at optimising and maintaining the animal's musculoskeltal health. The treatment will kick start healing in the animals body but it is important to remember that healing is a process and can continue for a few days post-treatment. Therefore, it is advised that the animal has at least one day off exercise after treatment, folllowed by a gradual return to their normal workload over 5-7 days. Individual specific aftercare advice will be given for your animal and a copy of the treatment record will be sent to you by email after the treatment.
What to expect after the treatment
McTimoney stimulates the body's own healing response and healing is a process which may take several days. Therefore, you may notice some changes in your animal in the days following treatment - they may be stiff and sore or they may feel instantly better and be more energetic, they may sleep more over the following days or just not be themselves - these are all normal reactions, it is just their body adjusting to it's new position. You may notice your animal drinking more water following the treatment - this allows the body to flush out any toxins released by the muscles during the treatment.
How many treatments will be needed?
The number and frequency of treatment needed varies between animals and is dependant on the animals' age, symptoms, fitness and type of work. Minor issues are usually resolved after one or two treatments, but sometimes an animal may require a number of treatments spread over several months, particularly with a chronic issue. Maintenance treatments are then recommended every 3-6 months, depending on the animal's workload, lifestyle and competiton schedule. These can work on a preventative basis so that incipient problems may be avoided and also help to improve performance and overall well-being in your animal.
Can any animal benefit from McTimoney?
Whatever the age of your animal, whatever your chosen lifestyle, activity or sport with your animal, you can improve the comfort, well being, general health, quality of life and even performance with the aid of McTimoney treatment. Even if the animal is not showing any signs and symptoms of back pain they can still benefit from a treatment. Competiton animals benefit from more regular treatments as the demands on their musculoskeletal system are higher. Older animals also benefit from regular treatments as McTimoney can reduce general stiffness and improve mobility.
Veterinary consent must be obtained prior to your animal receiving a McTimoney treatment. This is a legal requirement under the 1966 Veterinary Act which states that it is illegal for anyone to treat an animal with any kind of physical therapy without veterinary permission. Consent is normally obtained by a phone call to your vet informing them that you have a McTimoney treatment for your horse and verbal consent is given over the phone. Sometimes the vet may require a consent form or wish to speak directly to me, please contact me if this is the case