Shockwave Therapy being applied to a horse with a proximal suspensory ligament injury
Shockwave Therapy being applied to a horse with a proximal suspensory ligament injury

Shockwave Therapy

Shockwaves are high-pressure, low frequency sound waves, generated by a device outside the body and applied to the affected tissue in a site-specific manner. When the shockwaves meet tissue interfaces of different densities, the energy contained in the shockwaves is released and interacts with the tissue. The shockwaves appear to relieve pain and accelerate healing within the injured tissue. Primarily the sound waves provide a mechanism to stimulate the healing process by interacting with the affected structures. In addition, it blocks pain conduction in the nerves for a period of time. This type of therapy was originally used to treat human beings with kidney stones, it allowed for the breaking up of the stones without the need for invasive surgery. More recently, shockwaves have been used to treat a range of orthopedic conditions in both human beings and animals. Besides its use for kidney stones in people, the other common applications which are similar to its use in equine medicine involve treatments for "tennis elbow", heel spurs, tendon issues involving the shoulder and selected non-union fractures. There are multiple equine orthopedic conditions that are similar to these human conditions and involve joint disease, soft tissue injuries and injuries to the interface of ligaments with bone.

Specific conditions that can improve with shockwave therapy are as follows:

  1. Caudal Heel Pain (see article on Foot Lameness)
  2. Navicular Disease/Syndrome
  3. Joint Inflammation
  4. Tendon or Ligament Injuries
  5. Back Pain
  6. Kissing Spines
  7. Sacro-iliac Pain
  8. Sesamoiditis
  9. Splints
  10. Ringbone

In the past 18 months we have started to employ these treatments and have already seen benefits in both acute and chronic conditions. Previously for horses that needed this type of therapy we referred them to Tufts Veterinary School or Rochester Equine. Now we are able to offer the same service with focused shockwave. Therapy will generally consist of 2-3 treatments 1-2 weeks apart. If patients are insured this type of therapy is generally covered as this uses focused shockwaves versus radial ones, thus allowing more precision and deeper penetration.

For more information on Shockwave Therapy, click here

Shockwave Therapy - Fetlock Disease
Shockwave Therapy - Back Soreness
Shockwave Therapy - Proximal Suspensory Disease