Equine veterinary journal2007; 40(2); 153-159; doi: 10.2746/042516408X250292

Effect of chiropractic manipulations on the kinematics of back and limbs in horses with clinically diagnosed back problems.

Abstract: Although there is anecdotal evidence of clinical effectiveness of chiropractic in treatment of equine back pain, little scientific work has been reported on the subject. Objective: To quantify the effect of chiropractic manipulations on back and limb kinematics in horse locomotion. Methods: Kinematics of 10 Warmblood horses were measured over ground at walk and trot at their own, preferred speed before, and one hour and 3 weeks after chiropractic treatment that consisted of manipulations of the back, neck and pelvic area. Speed was the same during all measurements for each horse. Results: Chiropractic manipulations resulted in increased flexion-extension range of motion (ROM) (P<0.05) at trot in the vertebral angular segments: T10-T13-T17 (0.3 degrees ) and T13-T17-L1 (0.8 degrees ) one hour after treatment, but decreased ROM after 3 weeks. The angular motion patterns (AMPs) of the same segments showed increased flexion at both gaits one hour after treatment (both angles 0.2 degrees at walk and 0.3 degrees at trot, P<0.05) and 3 weeks after treatment (1.0 degrees and 2.4 degrees at walk and 1.9 degrees and 2.9 degrees at trot, P<0.05). The lumbar (L3 and L5) area showed increased flexion after one hour (both angles 0.3 degrees at walk and 0.4 degrees at trot P<0.05), but increased extension after 3 weeks (1.4 degrees and 1.2 degrees , at trot only, P<0.05). There were no detectable changes in lateral bending AMPs. The inclination of the pelvis was reduced at trot one hour (1.6 degrees ) and 3 weeks (3 degrees ) after treatment (P<0.05). The mean axial rotation of the pelvis was more symmetrical 3 weeks after the treatment at both gaits (P<0.05). There were no changes in limb angles at walk and almost no changes at trot. Conclusions: The main overall effect of the chiropractic manipulations was a less extended thoracic back, a reduced inclination of the pelvis and improvement of the symmetry of the pelvic motion pattern. Conclusions: Chiropractic manipulations elicit slight but significant changes in thoracolumbar and pelvic kinematics. Some of the changes are likely to be beneficial, but clinical trials with increased numbers of horses and longer follow-up are needed.
Publication Date: 2007-12-20 PubMed ID: 18089466DOI: 10.2746/042516408X250292Google Scholar: Lookup
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This research explores the effectiveness of chiropractic treatments on horses, specifically focusing on back pain. The study observes and quantifies the changes in the horse’s back and limb movements before and after chiropractic manipulations are administered.

Objective and Methods

  • The aim was to quantify the impact of chiropractic treatment on the kinematics (study of motion) of the back and limbs in horses.
  • The research was conducted on 10 Warmblood horses that were clinically diagnosed with back problems.
  • The researchers conducted a motion analysis on the horses at walk and trot before the chiropractic adjustments, one hour after, and three weeks post-treatment.
  • The treatments focused on manipulating the horse’s back, neck and pelvic region.


  • One hour post-treatment, the researchers found an increase in the flexion-extension range of motion (ROM) in two key vertebral angular segments of the horses at trot. This improvement, however, decreased after three weeks.
  • The angular motion patterns showed increased flexion at both walk and trot one hour after treatment and three weeks after treatment.
  • For the lumbar area, increased flexion was observed after one hour, and increased extension after three weeks.
  • No significant changes were recorded in the bending patterns of the horses’ lateral motions.
  • The inclination of the horse’s pelvis was reduced at trot after one and three weeks post-treatment, and the axial rotation of the pelvis was more symmetrical after three weeks of treatment.
  • There were negligible changes observed in the limb angles at walk and very minor changes at trot.


  • The primary impact of the chiropractic treatments was a less extended thoracic back, a minimized inclination of the pelvis, and an enhancement of the symmetry of the pelvic motion pattern.
  • The results imply that chiropractic treatments can cause minor but significant changes in the horse’s motion patterns. These changes might benefit the horse, but a larger study pool and an extended follow-up duration are necessary for more conclusive results.

Cite This Article

Gomez Alvarez CB, L'ami JJ, Moffat D, Back W, van Weeren PR. (2007). Effect of chiropractic manipulations on the kinematics of back and limbs in horses with clinically diagnosed back problems. Equine Vet J, 40(2), 153-159. https://doi.org/10.2746/042516408X250292


ISSN: 0425-1644
NlmUniqueID: 0173320
Country: United States
Language: English
Volume: 40
Issue: 2
Pages: 153-159

Researcher Affiliations

Gomez Alvarez, C B
  • Department of Equine Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, Yalelaan 112, NL-3584 CM Utrecht, The Netherlands.
L'ami, J J
    Moffat, D
      Back, W
        van Weeren, P R

          MeSH Terms

          • Animals
          • Back / physiology
          • Back Pain / therapy
          • Back Pain / veterinary
          • Biomechanical Phenomena
          • Gait / physiology
          • Horse Diseases / therapy
          • Horses
          • Manipulation, Chiropractic / methods
          • Manipulation, Chiropractic / veterinary
          • Range of Motion, Articular / physiology
          • Stress, Mechanical
          • Time Factors
          • Treatment Outcome
          • Veterinary Medicine / methods
          • Weight-Bearing


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