Chiropractors hate horse riding

Chiropractors hate horse riding which of course is an exaggeration; I haven't tested the opinions of my colleagues.

I confess this is a subject that has long been on my heart, but I've refrained... I know it's going to create a storm! Perhaps I should rephrase the subject line: Chiropractors hate irresponsible parents who allow their children onto an unknown horse in uncontrolled circumstances...

  • You've gone to visit granny and gramps, and they have a horse.
  • You're on holiday and, on offer is unsupervised horse riding.
  • A new riding school opens nearby and it sounds such fun...

Chiropractors hate horse riding

In Holland

In Holland we have a saying or little poem for almost every situations; there are a lot of horses, so chiropractors hate horse riding here too. 

It doesn't rhyme nicely in English as it does in Dutch but here goes.

Women with horses, 

have heaven on earth,

but should they die,

there's nothing to inherit.

Riding with Reka

Not many of you, if any, will have read the delightful autobiography Riding with Reka by "Heather" printed in 1937. Heather started writing her book when she was only fifteen; it tells of the simply marvellous life of a teenager and her horse. Beautifully, simply, it recounts the life of her friend Reka, the black foal.

The opening lines: Spring is the season of youth - the world is clothed in a new mantle, fresh and green; trees are covered with a delicate tracery of young leaves, everything is fresh; the riding population put away pink coats and the children think of gymkhanas, whilst many a farmer and breeder wonders what his foals will be like...

An enchanting book. The foreword opens with the chilling words: "Joyce Mary Vivian (Heather) at the age of eighteen has passed to the Great Beyond... without consulting anyone she sent the manuscript last summer to Messrs. Eyre & Spottiswoode who decided to publish, not knowing of the accident which happened so soon after."

Heather never heard that her book had been accepted for publishing.

Life is about risk taking

Not I the one to suggest we should never undertake anything that's even slightly dangerous. Getting out of bed every morning gives danger its first opportunity. A seasoned glider pilot, one who has owned a motor cycle for over thirty years, I firmly believe life is for living, preferably at full speed. This morning I will be using heavy carpentry machinery for making a builtin cupboard.

But parents who encourage their children to get involved in reckless and irresponsible horse riding should be put in the stocks and have rotten tomatoes thrown at them.

Heather's is a story about the right way to do it. She went to a proper riding school, learnt about horses the correct way, mucked out the stables, and enjoyed a marvelous, outdoor life that should be the envy of any child. And yet, the Great Unknown at only eighteen was her fate.

Learn to ride horses, motor bikes, and gliding the right way, and I'm wholly in favour of it. Yes, they are dangerous sports, but life is intrinsically dangerous. You weigh up the dangers and have a ball, knowing that it may occasionally end up in tragedy.

The joints of Luschka

The lower neck has small, vulnerable parts called an uncus or uncinate process. They prevent sideways movement of the neck bones, protecting the nerve roots as they emerge from the spine.

But falls on the head, whiplash, diving accidents, contact sports like rugby often injure these little bones and they become arthritic, producing little daggers of bone that invade the foramen.

Uncinate process

Uncinate process is a small slither of bone that protects the vertebral artery and nerve root from a prolapsed disc in the neck. It is particular vulnerable to trauma and one of the reasons chiropractors hate horse riding. 

Uncinate process and the IVF

Notice too the proximity to the V, the vertebral artery, on it's way to the brain. Read more at Uncovertebral joint Luschka ...

But the net result is irritation of the nerve roots supplying the arm, and a lifetime of tingling in arms and hands, carpal tunnel pain, shoulder pain syndromes. In short, misery.

So, respect a horse. It's a potentially dangerous animal that can severely injury your child. Allowing him, or even more likely her, to climb, unsupervised, onto the back of an unknown horse, is like allowing your teenager, who has never ridden motorcycles before onto a superbike. Like this one custom made for a chiropractor!

Crazy bikes versus horses.

Sacroiliac joint

Sacroiliac joint is vulnerable when exposed to heavy trauma to the pelvis. A fall on the sacrum from a height is another reason why chiropractors hate horse riding; it can cause life long pain.

A fall off a horse or motorcycle onto the small of the back often shifts either the sacrum or ilium, depending on how you fall, injuring the sacroiliac joint ... Whilst this joint is very strong bonded with ligaments, everyone falls periodically and the SIJ was so designed by the good Lord, but it would seem he didn't have in mind that we humans would mount horses and superbikes!

Falls on ice and snow often injures these ligaments too. Keeps chiropractors in the Frozen North in business! One man's meat...

Sacroiliac joint often injured in horse falls

Arm pain

Arm pain, and tingling in the arms and hands are the subject of the most inquiries at this site. Chiropractors hate horse riding, but damage is done equally in any whiplash injury and especially diving into shallow water. 

 Chiropractic Coalface @ DC's hate horse riding

What has provoked this diatribe against horses and horse-riding is a recent patient, one of many, who has had twenty-five plus years of misery. Only forty, she has severe neck pain, pain radiating down the arm, disturbed sleep, weakness (known as "paresis" in medical terms) in the fingers. She recalls having to wear a collar after a fall off a horse when she was eleven.

X-rays show injury and the resultant arthritic changes in the joints of Luschka, pinching the nerve to the arm.

Ucinate process injured in horse falls.

It's cost her fortune over the years too. Think twice before letting your child on the back of an unknown horse.

Now you know why chiropractors hate horse riding. You may say, but it brings you a lot of business. True, but it's hard, unrewarding work. The patients are rarely satisfied, because no one can cure them. Relieve the pain, yes, but you're letting your child in for a lifetime of regular chiropractic treatment. Treatment that will help, carefully and skillfully done, but never cure, and sometimes ends up in neck surgery.

One last thought: research shows that once you, or your child, have had neck pain for six months, you'll have it for the rest of you life. If you know you've had an injury, do something!

It's odd, patients are quite happy to allow chiropractors to manipulate their necks, but their children are quite another story. If you trust your chiropractor with your spine, then trust him or her with your child's health too; and also Granny. I'm currently treating a child of only six weeks, and a great granny of 89.

Carefully, gently done, chiropractic is safe for young and old.

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Interesting challenges of the day

1. Mr S is a 76 year old man with neck pain of some 9 months duration. Luckily, most of the discomfort is upper cervical which is only rarely arthritic; his lower cervical spine is a degenerative mess that I've left alone. After seven treatments his pain and stiffness is 50 percent better, and he's happy in the circumstances. He can sleep through the night now and that makes a huge difference.

2. Mr P is 32 year old man with very severe lower back pain radiating to the big toe which is 30 percent numb. He had an episode three weeks ago, took anti inflammatories and was soon better as is typical of the medial disc herniation. But before it healed, after a trivia it came roaring back, much worse. The characteristic crossed sign was evident; sitting in a chair, straightening the right leg provoked severe left back pain and tingling in the leg. He's doing well.

3. Severe lower back pain is scary; just ask Mrs P. Just watching her get out of the car I she was in trouble; she had a slipped disc at L4 making her lean towards the opposite side; luckily she had no pain in the leg. Despite family pressure that this was far too severe for a chiropractor, she persevered. Within five days she was standing upright, and after two weeks almost painfree. 

Despite a hectic job, she wisely took my advice and stayed home for what I call exercising bed rest.

4. Mr S has had lower back, groin and back of thigh and calf pain for fourth months.

He has a pincer deformity in the hip causing the stabs in the groin, and a degenerative facet causing the sciatica. Both are responding well to chiropractic and he's well pleased; sixty five percent better after three treatments.

5. Mr T is a wise man; he's taken a warning TIA seriously and has lost 15 pounds, and has at least as much again to lose. A change to a low starch diet and half hour daily walk has made the difference; but the walking is making his foot and back miserable. The expensive orthotic is hopeless; luckily his hips and back are fine, but he needs a simple heel lift.

6. I too have had serious lower back issues, luckily fixed by my own chiropractor; so I too have to do my exercises, take care when lifting supers full of honey, gardening and using the chainsaw. Regaining the function of your spine is just as important as the pain.

7. My own granddaughter, only 7 is hypermobile giving her pelvic, knee and ankle issues. Xrays show a mildly dysplastic hip. Years ago we would have called it growing pains. She too regularly needs chiropractic care and luckily responds well. Increased range of motion is more difficult than too stiff in my opinion. Our care is for kids too.

8. This 65 year old lady is a serious gardener; every day she is bending, lifting and digging for 2 to 3 hours a day. It regularly catches her in the sacroiliac joint, so she has a treatment once a month that sorts it out. She does her lower back exercises faithfully.

9. This 88 year old lady is an inspiration; every day she is busy in the community. With a nasty scoliosis she manages very well with a chiropractic adjustment every six weeks and exercises faithfully done.  

10. Mr X is a 71 year old retired man who wants to continue with maintenance care every six to eight weeks; he had suffered from two years of lower back pain when he first came a year ago. He has no discomfort now after 8 chiropractic treatments, but is aware that danger lurks.

11. Mrs C has been having severe headaches, and taking a lot of analgesics. It's a non complicated upper cervical facet syndrome, and she's doing well.

12. Mr D is a 38 old year man with chronic shoulder pain after a rotator cuff tear playing cricket. It responded well to treatment, but he knows he must do his exercises every day; for two years he couldn't sleep on that shoulder.

13. Mr D, a 71 year old man, has a severe ache in the shoulder and midback since working above his head. Trapped nerve tests are negative but he has advanced degenerative joints of Luschka; after just two treatments he is 50 percent better. Can we reach 90?

And so the day goes; chiropractors shouldn't be treating the elderly most medical sites state but that's so much bunkum.


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