Monday, 27 June 2011

Really? (Part 2)

This blog is a continuation of the one titled "Really?"

An excerpt from sport horse vet, Dr Alex Emerson’s excellent blog illustrates the idea that I expressed in the blog preceding this one titled "Really?" He shares his frustration with the opinions of the “expert” practitioners of alternative medicine…

I’m not opposed to capitalism; everyone is free to make a living. And I’m always open to suggestion, if someone has noticed something I haven’t, or has an idea that is alternative to my own. But it drives me (and my colleagues, almost to the man) nuts that these people are often getting called before we are, even though they often charge more for their “therapy” than we are for our exam, which often leads to an actual diagnosis, and occasionally, more appropriate therapy. Don’t get me wrong – I strongly support acupuncture and chiro practices (I’m trained in, and practice chiro everyday), but I believe in it being practiced by veterinarians. Not lay people who learned massage or pseudo chiropractic in a couple of weekend courses from another layperson. I’m happy that those people can make a living, but it’s annoying that in some cases, we have to answer questions that they raise about a horse, that they don’t have any business raising.

In the end, calling a vet first usually saves money. …We have much better diagnostic skills and equipment on average, than we had not too many years ago, regarding these hard-to-reach areas. This has expanded our therapeutic regime in return. Many of us have learned how to apply chiropractic (the real kind, learned from chiropractors), acupuncture, ultrasound guided injections, shockwave, etc, to genuinely alter disease and dysfunction.

I’m not saying that alternative voices don’t offer something important to the mix. Indeed, my experience is that there are a few out there, who in spite of a formal education, can change something in a horse that vets and farriers were unable to.

They have special skills, and belong in the horse community as part of the management team. But they aren’t a first line of defense. The most appropriate first expert is one who spent a handful of years and many thousands of dollars learning every aspect of anatomy, physiology and pathology of the animals they are treating, and have dedicated their lives since graduating to improving their skills. They are licensed by the state as experts, and carry insurance in case things don’t go as planned. But just as importantly, they attempt to practice defensible medicine, rooted in scientific fact instead of anecdotal whim. There’s a lot of great research going on right now that is expanding our knowledge base of how horses function, and what to do when they don’t. Use someone who reads that research and can figure out how to apply it.

I have been driving cars for many years, but I barely know what it looks like under the hood. If you brought me your car and asked me why it’s making a knocking sound, I’d be happy to give you my opinion. But you probably shouldn’t pay me for it.

Dr. Emerson provides sports medicine services for Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, KY and Wellington, FL.

1 comment:

  1. Lindsay, if all vets were as knowledgable as you would wish, I would agree with you. Unfortunately pure equine vets, who have time and inclination to keep up with current study are few and far between. Neither do they have the time to spend on each horse, or to study all the new research in specific areas. After 50 years in the horse business, I would always ask a back, teeth or hoof specialist to check out a problem, and only if they were unable to help, would I call in a vet. In my personal experience, the vet does not have the expertise in these areas. I'm sure there are those that do, but I haven't found them. Having said that, I hope I know when the services of a vet are what is required and wouldn't hesitate to use them - but I have had some seriously bad experiences.