Practitioner Updates

Animal Chiropractic Q&A

Dr. Catherine Foreman-Hesterberg completing a chiropractic care on horse

Dr. Catherine Foreman-Hesterberg, a 2016 University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine graduate, joined the faculty at the College of Veterinary Medicine in 2019. In addition to serving as an equine veterinarian, she is part of the rehabilitation service at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital. Dr. Foreman is certified in animal chiropractic by the Options for Animals: Animal Chiropractic School as well as by the International Veterinary Chiropractic Association.

What is animal chiropractic?

Animal chiropractic is the diagnosis of vertebral subluxation complexes (VSCs) and dysfunctional joints of the spine and extremities. A VSC is a complex of functional, structural, or pathological articular changes that compromise neural integrity; this can affect organ system function and overall health of the animal. The most prominently affected organ system is the musculoskeletal system. Animal chiropractic is the ability to recognize that the body’s innate recuperative power is affected by and integrated through the nervous system.

What animals need to have a chiropractic adjustment?

All animals can benefit from a chiropractic adjustment. Animals’ bodies go under an immense amount of stress from activities of daily living, and even more stress if they are performance animals. These stresses can heavily influence their musculoskeletal and neurologic systems. Chiropractic is also extremely beneficial to animals following an orthopedic procedure as well as for those geriatric patients struggling with osteoarthritis.

Can it be used with other therapies?

Animal chiropractic should be used in conjunction with other therapies. Chiropractic fits in very well and often complements traditional therapies such as systemic medications (e.g., non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for pain control), intra-articular therapies, and rehabilitation exercises.


On average an animal should be seen once a week for two to four weeks in a row to start. Depending on how the animal is responding to the adjustments, the treatments can then be spaced out to every two weeks, every four weeks, then hopefully every six to eight weeks. Realistically, this frequency is not always possible for most owners, but if the animal is already coming to our orthopedic service for rehabilitation exercises, the animal can most certainly be adjusted at that same time.

Are veterinarians the only individuals who can perform animal chiropractic?

Under the Illinois Veterinary Practice Act, veterinarians and human chiropractors who have a valid license in the state of Illinois are the only two professionals who can legally provide chiropractic care for animals.

How do we schedule an appointment for animal chiropractic?

For large animals such as horses and livestock, clients should call the Midwest Equine clinic in Farmer City: 309-928-2127. For small animals, clients should call the Small Animal Clinic in Urbana at 217-333-5300 and schedule with the Orthopedic & Rehab Service.

By Catherine Foreman-Hesterberg, DVM