Head Office: 0845 519 5971

SyncThermology Blog

Joint Disease and Osteopathy

Sunday, October 02, 2016  ‹ Back To Latest News List

This week our blog is written by our Yorkshire Branch Manager, qualified animal Osteopath and owner of Huddersfield Osteopathy, Tracy. As part of our focus on joints in this quarter, Tracy writes about how Osteopathy works to help manage joint function and health. Although Tracy discusses an equine example in her piece, the principals of joint degeneration and the benefits of osteopathy apply to our canine companions also.

There is a well known saying in the horse world 'no hoof, no horse', but in my experience it is just the beginning of a new phase. When I bought my 10 year old Anglo/Arab mare Gulliver she had been in the army and hunted out of her skin. In her passport it reported that she had OCD (osteochondritis) of her hocks but she was sound and a good 'doer' and she was(and still is),beautiful .When work was taking over my life I loaned her out briefly and the rider asked her farrier to fit anti- slip devices which over one month changed her confirmation and her hocks started giving way .

A whole body thermogram gave me the perspective I needed to put a plan together with my vet. I was lucky to have worked with Mick Hancock at Donaldson's Vets before, providing a structural Osteopathic opinion on un-explained lameness cases but I didn't own my camera then. The images revealed the chronic nature of the lameness (the left hind was so hypothermic or sympathetically shut down, it didn't register in the images).

Mick prescribed a short course NSAIDS on the basis that if the arthritis wasn't in it's active phase then they would not make a difference and he was right. He trusted that I would do right by my ageing horse and I agreed to re-scan when she became sound. Using natural anti- inflammatories, oils and excellent forage and Osteopathic treatment and of course time, Gulliver is back on form and enjoying light exercise.She has been re-scanned to monitor treatment progress and her legs show a more even thermographic pattern .

As in my human practice, Osteopathy serves a vital role in bridging the gap between surgery and drugs and doing nothing at all.

Why does a horse need Osteopathy for joint problems?

Originally a horse was not meant to be ridden but the stresses and strains imposed on the joints are when we domesticate horses and begin to work them. Many riders sit asymmetrically which can create imbalances in standing and movement as well as restrictions in the joints and muscles.

Arthritis ranges from inflammation of the synovial membrane and fibrous joint capsule (synovitis and capsulitis), through intra-articular fractures and ligament injury all the way to osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis is when you have progressive loss of articulate cartilage and what you end up with if you have too severe of an initial trauma or your treatment is ineffective.

What is Osteopathy?

The science of Osteopathy was developed in 1874 by Dr Andrew Taylor Still, a medical physician. He ardently taught that the structure of the body and how it functions are inextricable linked and that each person has within himself an intrinsic self healing, self regulating mechanism .

An Osteopath's primary tool, in both assessment and treatment is the highly skilled sense of touch (palpation), which is used to gather information from the tissues that is not readily available from a diagnostic piece of equipment. Combined with visual information and a detailed knowledge of anatomy, the Osteopath builds a 'survey' of the body how well it is functioning as a living, moving unit .

What does an Osteopathic treatment consist of?

Treatment techniques employed by the Osteopath include:

Soft tissue techniques, such as massage and stretches, used to ease tight muscle and soften fascia.

Functional techniques to normalise the position of a joint by releasing the tissues around it .

Joint articulation and mobilisation which is a manual therapy intervention, a type of passive rhythmic or repetitive movement of a joint .It is aimed at a 'target' synovial joint with the aim of improving the function of it via lymphatic drainage. By increasing drainage and nutrition to the joint the overall goal is to restore the body's alignment and to get it to heal itself.

In conclusion, degenerative joint disease once diagnosed by your veterinarian and treated effectively, does not have to be the end of the line. Healthy joints are the foundation for every activity you want to enjoy with your horse or dog. By establishing what is normal for them by regularly handling their joints you will be aware when a problem arises .

In my opinion it is healthy to have a rider check as well to check for pelvic symmetry and correct any postural issues that may influence the way you ride .

All Osteopaths, must under the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966, gain consent from a Veterinary Surgeon before an animal can receive any complementary physical or manipulative therapy.

I hope this blog will have given you some useful information that may help to look at the health of your horse or dog's joints.

Tracy Lomax

Registered Osteopath

Animal Osteopath

Branch Manager and thermographer at Sync ThermologyYorkshire


Tel:01484 517808