Extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) is a non-invasive technology for treating musculoskeletal problems, soft-tissue injuries and bone injuries in horses.
The shockwaves are created, emitted and directed onto the injured area. When the shockwaves meet interfaces of different impedance (i.e. bone/soft tissue interface) changes within the tissue are created. These include;
- An increase in blood flow
- Direct cellular effects
- Activation of osteogenic factors (the process of laying down new bone)
- A direct analgesic effect
- Equine shockwave also restores mobility and promotes faster healing by stimulating bone growth, tissue regeneration and the release of endorphins, but the exact mechanisms of action are unknown
- Numerous conditions have been treated in the horse, including:
- Insertional desmopathies e.g.
- – Proximal suspensory desmitis
- – Suspensory ligament branch injuries
- – Avulsion fractures at the proximal attachment of the suspensory ligament
- Impinging dorsal spinous processes (DSPs)
- Bucked-shin complex
- Stress factures
- Osteoarthritis of the distal hock joints
- Superficial digital flexor tendonitis
- Angular limb deformity in young growing foals
Treatment can be also useful in cases of chronic pain that is refractory to conventional treatment.
Horses usually tolerate the procedure well although sedation is advisable and routinely performed to enable a thorough and accurate treatment as well as limiting any discomfort to the horse.
Usually 1-3 treatments are administered at 1-2 weeks intervals. Horses are usually on box rest and controlled exercise during treatment.