The skeleton of an animal is the framework that the rest of the body relies on for attachment, movement and protection of internal organs. Key to the skeleton is the spinal column, off which everything else is based upon. The spinal column consists of different vertebrae that go from the base of the skull through to the tail.The spinal vertebrae are linked together via intervertebral joints and whilst the number of vertebrae can vary according to the animal species, all mammals have seven cervical vertebrae.
Through the centre of the spinal column runs the spinal cord, from which a pair of nerves exit at each intervertebral joint. These nerves are the messengers, carrying information from the brain to the rest of the body, ensuring everything from internal organs to locomotor muscles are functioning correctly.
Sometimes a vertebrae can become stuck, or misaligned, within its normal range of movement. This will affect the range of motion of that part of the spinal column as well as potentially narrowing the intervertebral gap and impinging on the nerve. This can cause irritation of the nerve and pain. Nerve impingement can affect the body detrimentally as the message from the brain to the body may be interrupted. To ensure the health and comfort of the animal, the vertebrae should be able to move fully within the normal range of movement.
Muscles work in antagonistic pairs to control movement; whilst one muscle is flexing, the opposing muscle tightens to control the amount of flexion. These muscles are joined to the bone by tendons. For the animal to move correctly, the muscles should be working evenly. However, if one muscle spasms and shortens, it will cause the other muscle to work harder. The opposing muscle has to take the extra strain and willbecome overused and more likely to be injured. Joint misalignments can be caused by one of the pair of muscles becoming over tight and preventing the vertebrae’s full range of movement within the vertebral joint.
Overtime, if the misalignments are not addressed, the animal will start to use compensatory movement as it copes with the original misalignments. These compensatory movements can further stress the musculoskeletal structures.
Regular McTimoney check-ups are recommended, not only to help with an existing problem but to also prevent further issues arising.