Chiropractic Adjustments and Cold Laser Therapy for Management of a Giraffe Cervical Spine Injury
A 2-year-old male reticulated giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata) was noted with a pronounced cervical spinal curvature (C3–C4) upon arrival as an incoming shipment. Initial medical management included treatment with a musculoskeletal relaxant (methocarbamol) and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (phenylbutazone, then meloxicam). Clinical improvement was observed as the neck straightened considerably within the first few weeks; however, the giraffe continued to guard neck movements and showed sensitivity on the left side of the neck. Using target training, the giraffe was operantly conditioned to allow chiropractic adjustments and cold laser therapy of the neck. Therapeutic laser (LiteCure Companion Therapy Laser) treatments of areas of cervical muscle spasm and contracture were performed twice per week for 1 month, then once per week. Within 5 months of the initial injury, the animal showed no evidence of guarded neck movements, neck sensitivity, or cervical spinal curvature. Mild spinal misalignment and muscle contracture have subsequently developed in the scapular region and the lower lumbar spine. Laser therapy and chiropractic adjustments are currently being used to address these new areas of concern and continued treatment of the affected region of the neck has been ongoing.
The authors thank the veterinary technicians and animal care staff of the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo for patient care and training. The authors also thank the staff of Pike’s Peak Veterinary Clinic for providing laser therapy sessions.