Tony Nevin BSc (Hons) Ost, DO graduated from the European School of Osteopathy, Maidstone in 1988. Within a year of entering human practice he began working within veterinary clinics treating small and large animals. This was soon followed by wildlife and exotic work where his passion for discovering the limits of osteopathy really took hold. To date he has treated more than 300 different species of mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian, and even fish. In rare moments of downtime he has even spent time testing his skills on insects and arachnids.
From a clinical point of view he is most interested in treating patients with chronic, long term movement and health issues. It is no surprise then, that he finds treating dogs suffering from arthritis so rewarding.
As well as his clinical practice he is Clinical Director on the MSc Animal Osteopathy programme, run through the McTimoney College of Chiropractic, Oxon. Currently this 2 year part time course is the only one of its kind in the UK. He also lectures nationally and internationally; runs unique wildlife workshops; and is a prolific writer, presenter and broadcaster. His radio show “The Missing Link” on Corinium Radio is the only one of its kind and is rapidly gaining a loyal listenership. You can catch his earlier shows, and specialist podcasts by following his Mixcloud page titled Tony Nevin.
For more than 6 years he chaired the Society of Osteopaths in Animal Practice (SOAP).
When not working, he loves spending time with his family and friends, and partaking of the occasional beverage or three.
Tony kindly agreed to answer the following questions:
What are your feelings on how we currently manage this common debilitating condition in dogs?
Currently there is quite a lot being done, however most of it seems to be pharmacologically based. Other modalities, including osteopathy are not always seen as being beneficial, which is such a shame, as there is much that it can offer. As an osteopath I spend my time trying to restore normal function to a patient’s musculoskeletal system (MSK), and therefore restore the ability for that individual to move normally, and with ease. When arthritis is thrown into the mix I will still want to help that individual to move as normally as possible throughout there entire body, and therefore reduce the pressure and stresses through those joints pathologically affected. By improving blood and lymphatic circulation the affected joints can also be helped, and when osteopathy is used as part of a structured approach, can help reduce the levels of medication a patient requires to take.
A better understanding of how osteopathic medicine is applied to these cases is also badly needed. Many vets and owners think that we are going to use vigorous articulation and heavy manipulation during treatment sessions. This couldn’t be further from the truth. I aim to create positive change to the MSK by direct touch. I do not want to elicit a protective response when I palpate and treat.
As a therapist what do you feel is essential for managing canine arthritis effectively?
A team approach. Nothing less will do. Patient support needs to be multi factorial, addressing the physical aspects such as individual joint loading and how those joints articulate with each other, as well as throughout the body; the chemistry – what is going on inside each structure, and what nutritional help/hindrance is happening, which will include blood and lymph circulation; and the psychological aspects of the condition – the family dynamic, lifestyle, routine, exercise etc… as well as the finer aspects of their keep, such as bedding, floor surfaces, stairs etc…
From my own professional standing I think osteopathy needs far better understanding, communicating to owners and other allied professions, and further integrating into mainstream veterinary medicine. This needs to begin with veterinary students, before their clinical minds have set and they have been indoctrinated into one way of thinking only.
How do you see treatment options for arthritis progressing over the next ten years?
As owners become even more adept at doing their own research I see osteopathy becoming much more widely accepted as part of the toolbox for arthritis care in dogs. By maximising the freedom of movement within each patient’s body, the ability of those individuals to lead healthier, happier lives for longer can be achieved. This can only happen if everyone involved in canine healthcare works together, rather than competing against each other.
Platforms like CAM are essential for bringing all of the professions closer together. We need to avoid profession fragmentation at all costs. This acts like a cancer that destroys free movement of knowledge, creates elitism, and harms the very patients we claim to be trying to help.
I would like to see proper osteopathic lectures given to all veterinary students once they are seeing clinical practice. Taught by the best and designed to keep vet students thinking outside of the box. We don’t know everything. We don’t have all of the answers. We haven’t asked all of the questions. Each of us has something new to offer, if only we take the time to think.
One piece of advice for an owner with a dog with arthritis
If I could offer one piece of advice it would be to buy a shoulder/chest harness to be used whenever you need to walk or control your dog. This allows for a more even distribution of forces through the strongest part of the dog when any pressure is applied through a lead. This one thing can drastically reduce accidental micro trauma to already compromised joints. Couple this with owner awareness of the speed at which their dog naturally walks, as opposed to making the dog walk at the owners optimum speed are essentials for long term care of the dog affected with arthritis.
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