Animal Biomechanical Professionals Australia

ABM for Small Animals ~ FAQs

General Questions

Some commonly asked questions about Animal Biomechanical procedures for our animals, both large and small. Please contact us if you have any additional questions.

ABM is a holistic approach to the musculoskeletal system of the animal with the aim of optimising joint and soft tissue biomechanics for the individual animal. Why is this important? When the joints of the spine and limbs cease to function properly (either individually, or as a group), generally due to injury, a cascade of events is created, which can be broken down into two main groups: Local, and Global.

ABM for Small Animals

More obvious examples of symptoms relating to dysfunctions, or joint problems, can include lameness, head tossing or shaking in horses, loss of performance, and apparent behavior issues such as bucking or girthiness in horses. These signs are often easily identified but are often associated with more subtle signs that an experienced and qualified animal practitioner would observe.

Spinal (or other) joint problems may not be the only cause of these signs, however a professional qualified in ABM will be able to determine if these signs are in fact related to a biomechanical dysfunction, and hence correct the problem.

Most conditions relating to the musculoskeletal system of animals can be helped by ABM to varying degrees. Many of these conditions can also be treated by classic veterinary approaches such as medication, rest, rehabilitation procedures, surgery or injections. Some conditions may also require dentistry, hoof care by a farrier, saddle assessment and exercises and in some cases, these referrals are all that is needed.

The advantage of the ABM approach is that it is drug free, often gets results very quickly, and is addressing the cause of these problems, instead of treating the effects, or symptoms of the problem.

  • Does your pet look stiff at all?
  • Does your pet have trouble getting up or lying down?
  • Does your pet tire more quickly than it used to?
  • Does your pet play less than it used to?
  • Does your pet yelp or whimper sometimes?
  • Has your pet stopped grooming some areas of its body?
  • Does your pet put off going to the toilet for as long as possible?
  • Has your pet stopped stretching front and back when it gets up?
  • Does your pet struggle or hesitate going up or down stairs, or jumping up/down?
  • Does your pet avoid you grooming some parts of its body?
  • Does your pet have trouble getting comfortable to rest?
  • Has your pet become bad tempered or aggressive?
  • Does your pet move suddenly or twitch if you touch a certain area?
  • Does your pet have trouble sitting “square”?
  • Does your pet tend to sit with legs to one side?
  • Does your pet limp?
  • Does your pet pace? (Both right legs & both left legs moving together)
  • Does your pet “bunny hop” when s/he runs?
  • Does your pet walk or run ‘crooked’?
  • Does your pet have a skin problem in a confined area of its body?
  • Does your pet lick or chew at an area of its body?
  • Has your pet’s posture changed?
  • Has your pet had orthopaedic surgery – eg cruciate repair, luxating patella or a fracture repair?
  • Is your pet not quite 100% after orthopaedic surgery?

An ABM practitioner has a wide range of treatment skills in their ‘toolbox’, including high velocity adjustments commonly recognised as ‘Chiropractic’ and more subtle ‘Osteopathic’ soft tissue or non force techniques. The qualified ABM practitioner will employ different approaches in different situations depending on the requirements and responses of the animal patient, the preferences of the client and their own skillset and preference. Every ABM practitioner is highly skilled, developing a unique assessment and treatment approach and style depending on their background and continued professional development.

Definitely not!

Many people will have experienced the crack of a Chiropractic adjustment, and expect to observe this when their animals are treated. This “crack” may not occur, and might actually not be the best thing that could happen in many cases.

A qualified ABM professional looks for joints that show restricted movement, particularly in one or more given directions. The detection of these dysfunctions can appear simple, however, it is not, and requires a great deal of experience, and understanding of joint biomechanics, thus should not be treated lightly. There are many ways to treat these joint dysfunctions, from high velocity thrusts, which are more likely to produce “cracks”, through gradual controlled releasing of the tension in an area, to “remote control” where work done in a different area of the body relaxes and allows release at the detected tight/restricted area. In many situations the controlled release, working with the body, produces the most complete and long lasting effect. In some situations, the “crack” is the way to go. The skilled ABM practitioner will choose accordingly.

Sometimes an animal will “crack” itself as it stretches following release work. These natural noises can indicate that the joint is now in a situation where it can release itself.

When that joint is adjusted, by applying a specific, short sharp thrust in the direction of the restriction, a small amount of separation between the joint surfaces occurs, as does a small degree of movement in the direction of restriction. (Note that most spinal joints individually have only small amounts of movement, yet collectively, allows the large ranges of movement we can see in regions like the neck).

During the fraction of a second when the joint surfaces are separated, occasionally, the pressure can decrease inside the joint just enough for dissolved gasses (presumably nitrogen) to form bubbles (like opening a soft drink bottle) and can produce a popping sound.

Producing this sound IS NOT the object of the adjustment, nor should it be used as an indicator of the effectiveness of an adjustment. The emphasis is on regaining movement in the direction of restriction by the thrust. In fact, many ‘lay’ animal therapists would have you believe that a joint has “gone back into place” if you hear a crack or noise. The truth is that joints cannot get “out of place” as such, unless they are actually dislocated.

As it happens, joints that are already too mobile, will generate noises more easily, hence the unqualified practitioner is more likely causing greater harm by creating that “popping” noise.

ABM involves ‘teaching’ dysfunctional body parts how to move properly again. The longer a problem has been allowed to exist, the more the animal will have adapted and compensated over time. Tissue changes such as muscle spasm and wasting, scar tissue formation and inflammation will become harder to resolve, the longer they exist.

Treating an animal for the first time often involves dealing with the most recent damage first. This is because recent damage is more likely to be reversible. Following this, the longer term problems and consequent damage can then be addressed.

How fast an animal responds depends on several factors including how quickly the problem is detected, how severe and extensive the problem is, the age of the animal and how diligent the owner/handler is in following instructions/advice from the ABM professional. In many less severe cases, one or two treatments may produce an obvious reduction in the previous signs.

Animals may benefit enormously from ABM care for both recent and long-term injuries, often termed ‘acute care’. They may also benefit greatly from a more ‘supportive’ or preventative approach to their spinal health, where professionals qualified in ABM can identify and correct biomechanical dysfunction early, before they have a chance to develop complications, and result in more serious harm to the animal. This can be particularly important when there is a lot of pre-existing damage.

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