Spinal Evaluation Learning Objectives

The principal goal of the manual therapy examination is to identify whether a musculoskeletal problem exists and to localize the injury to either soft tissue, articular, or neurologic structures. Orthopedic and neurologic evaluations are important adjunctive assessments used to identify common causes of limb lameness, spinal injuries, and neurological disorders that are more appropriately and effectively treated with traditional medical or surgical approaches.

Manual therapy evaluation and treatment is not a substitute for a thorough lameness examination and diagnostic imaging. However, horses with conditions that are not readily diagnosed using traditional modalities or with concurrent lameness and spinal dysfunction may benefit from a thorough manual therapy evaluation. Some horses present with vague or overlapping signs of neurologic disease and musculoskeletal pain, which may be differentiated with a detailed axial skeleton evaluation.

The spinal examination also helps to identify and differentiate signs of acute and chronic spinal dysfunction and to localize stiffness, pain, or muscle hypertonicity to a few vertebral segments or an entire vertebral region.

In this module you will learn the following topics:

  • Static Observation
  • Dynamic Observation
  • Soft Tissue Palpation
  • Bony Palpation
  • Joint Mobilization
  • Spinal Reflexes
  • Sternal Elevation Reflex
  • Pelvic Flexion Reflex
  • Active Range of Motion
  • Baited Stretches
  • Neurologic Examination
  • Tack Evaluation