Den Hoek

The risk of spinal manipulation

Risk of treating the spine too often

The goal of our practice in the treatment of the horse’s spine is to achieve a positive long-term effect.

In our view, there is a tendency at the moment in which horses may be treated too often with manual therapy, chiropractic or osteopathy.

Risk of over-treating

In our opinion, treating a spine monthly or even weekly can cause unnecessary damage to joints, capsules, ligaments and nervous system. With too much manipulation of the spine, there is even a risk of instability and possibly even osteoarthritis formation in the long term.

It is normal for a horse to be treated in a treatment process with intervals of 4 to 6 weeks. What we advise against is the preventive examination with too often treatment of the spine.

In the more than 27 years that we have been treating horses, we have seen the consequences of this. Certainly with hypermobile horses, one should be cautious about manipulating excessively. In some horses and dogs, the spine shows acquired or congenital skew, which does not always need and should not be corrected.

Purpose of manipulation

The following positive effects can occur after manipulation:

  • decrease in pain complaints
  • increased mobility in the joint
  • relaxation of the muscles (around the treatment site)
  • increase in blood flow
  • improvement of the nervous system.

The treatment can last for 6 to 8 weeks. It is important to give a horse time to adjust to its new balance.


For the treatment methods that are used to improve the mobility of the spine, the following does not apply: it does not bathe, it does not harm.

It is also important to include factors such as training / movement, saddle, hooves and nutrition in the advice, as this can also have an adverse effect on the spine / muscle tone. If these factors are not adjusted, blockages can come back (faster).

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