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075 -« Dépêche » June 2010

Excessive Tension Of The Spinal Cord During Animal Growth: Myth Or Reality ?
Créé le : Tuesday 5 October 2010 by Catherine Laurent, Méryl Thieblemont, Patrick Chêne

Dernière modificaton le : Wednesday 6 December 2017

The evolution of knowledge and products offered by manufacturers of food for growing animals induce some adverse effects that osteopaths encounters daily.
Firsts identifications and publications of what is now commonly called the excess of "Medullary Traction Force" (FTM) date from 2007 (A. Ruiz de Azua Mercadal, P. Chene, V. Zenoni cf. dépêch Vet.’s, November 29, 2008) and knowledges in this field are still evolving.

 The concept of excess FTM

The medullary traction force (FTM) is the tension that has arisen in the spinal cord during the phenomenon called "apparent ascent of the cord" in the spine during the growth of young animals. If the growth of the skeleton (vertebrae) and nerve tissue (bone) is proceeding smoothly, the cord stretched between the skull and firsts coccygeal vertebra, grows in correlation with increasing the length of the "vertebral tube" that surrounds it. Once a significant difference occurs between the relative growth of the spine bone and the spinal cord, excessive tension appears inducing at first compensation organic silent.

The energy performance of manufactured foods, changing racial selections (large breeds, breeds rapidly growing ...) accentuate today more frequently this differential growth rate between the spinal cord and nervous tissue.

Many dysfunctions are observed by osteopaths called for locomotors abnormalities, abnormal postures or lameness on growing animals.

 All species are affected by this phenomenon.

The case of a calf bred Gascon, in Ariège illustrates this concept.
Consultation of this day is motivated by a limp gait on a calf of two months living in the meadow with his mother. When walking, the calf appears to have the left posterior larger than the right and walk very stiff as if he had a crutch, falling heavily on the right side at every step (video available by following this link :( Link to the article of osteo4pattes )).

Given the aggressiveness of the mother and the anxiety of the calf, the two animals are kept together in contention and the calf is only accessible from the left side.

Osteopathic diagnosis shows a medullary traction forc e far superior to the norm, which cause an adaptation of the sacrum in torsion. One can imagine that this adaptation aims to reduce the "length" on the spinal cord compared to the spine to try to "release" this excessive tension.

Schematic of major osteopathic dysfunctions observed in the calf.

Blocking of the sacrum itself causes an asymmetry of iliacs, blocking the left iliac in top position, following the twisting physiological (see articles Yves Guillard, Osteopath DO) and the external fascial helix (see articles P. Chêne, veterinary and osteopathic DO).

This deprives the left hindlimb of the possibility of "down" normally at the advanced, and dysfunction of the spinal cord gives this aspect of "crutch" stiff when walking.

The treatment consisted of a relaxation of tension osteopathic spinal cord (by tissular techniques) and externe fascial helix (by fascial techniques). This led the sacrum to resume its natural symmetrical position and its "breathing" between iliacs. Thus liberated, the left iliac can play its role of pulley to the femur which resumed its movement of rotation during the walk.

The time to treat another animal (approximately 15 minutes) and the calf and her mother was released which showed almost immediate effect of medullar relaxation on the gait since the effect of "crutch" was almost more noticeable in walking.


Although very recent, these concepts of excess of FTM and of fascial helix(tensegrity to scale body) in the growing animals are realities for many osteopaths and will be the objects of publications to identify all the consequences. These consequences are expressed not only on animal growth but also on adult animals, adapting to compensate this excess of tension, taking positions dysfunctional locomotor disorders can evolve when an event disrupts this delicate balance.

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