Osteopathy Overview for Canines
Osteopathy is derived from the Greek words osteon (tissue) and pathos (feeling) is essentially “feeling
the motion of the tissues”.
Developed in the U.S. in the early 19th century, founder Dr. Andrew Still discovered a direct relationship
between the musculo-skeletal system
and the function of the rest of the body. His understanding was
that form/structure directs the function of specific joints, which led to his conclusion
alteration in the structure can trigger dysfunction in other parts of the body.
Osteopathy comprises many non-invasive, manual-therapy techniques:
- Direct techniques, such as high velocityflow amplitude (chiropractic) and muscle energy
- Biovalen Systems (Frank Lowen, LMT)
- Cranio-sacral techniques
- Functional indirect techniques
- Visceral manipulation, and
- Strain / counter-strain technques
These techniques are well-known to physical therapists; however, they are foreign in traditional
The emerging field of osteopathy in animal rehabilitation has tremendous potential
to help dogs with back and shoulder problems,
particularly agility dogs, canine athletes, seniors,
service dogs, or those hit by cars. A regimen of osteopathic treatment usually
helps restore a dog’s
Osteopathy Treatment Steps
Focusing treatment on the most painful area, in general, does not lead to complete and sustained
relief. Rather, a fundamental
principle of osteopathy is to resolve the core problem, layer by layer.
First, locate and treat the area of greatest restriction (i.e., the part of the body with the greatest
dysfunction that also has the most
influence on other systems).
Following that concept, you work sequentially from the area of greatest restriction to least restriction (sequencing).
Because the underlying issue may be multifaceted and complex this approach will ensure both complete
and lasting results.
I developed several Osteopathic Models for the Lumbo-pelvis and Cranio-sacral Mechanics for
Biomechanics of the Spine and Lumbo-Pelvis in the GAIT cycle
The art of differential diagnosing is essential in osteopathy. The movements in the lumbo-pelvis area
during the gait are complex
and perform in a functional kinetic chain. Understanding the spinal mechanics,
the normal (forward) sacral and ilia mechanics that
appear during the canine gait, can help you treat
the different lumbar, sacral, and ilium dysfunctions.
We often see sacral-iliac dysfunctions in canines, making it impossible for the dog to bear full weight
during the gait
or full range of motion in the hip. Differentiating between hip dysplasia versus sacro-iliac
dysfuntions can be accomplished
with a functional exam in the full lumbo-pelvis area. The most common
problems I treat in my canine pracrtice are combinations
of L7-S1 facet joint dysfunctions, sacral
torsions, and pelvis rotations.
In collaboration with Kent Stevens, PhD, professor in computer science at the University of Oregon
and co-founder of the Dinomorph Program, we
developed a 3-D video of the canine lumbo-spinal
mechanics during their gait cycle. This video is a powerful tool in the courses I teach.