Shockwave Therapy, properly called Extra-Corporeal Shockwave Therapy (ESWT) is a therapy that has been recently adapted from human medicine for use in the horse. We have had excellent success using it to improve the prognosis of high suspensory ligament injuries. In fact it is one of the only treatments that is effective for this injury.
ESWT has also been used to help treat back problems, splints and even navicular syndrome.
We are one of few veterinary practices with a shockwave machine designed specifically to be used in horses. We are happy to accept referrals for shockwave treatment from any local practices. Our machine is fully portable, and there is no need for you to travel your horse for treatment.
How Does Shockwave Work?
The machine generates pressure waves that are directed towards the damaged structure using the hand-held device. These pressure waves have been shown to help with improving blood supply, improving the horse’s natural repair mechanisms. They have also been shown to have an effect on the nerves supplying pain sensation, and make them less sensitive to pain. This gives a pain-killing effect in addition to stimulating healing.
What Will Happen?
We normally recommend shockwave therapy be performed on 3 occasions, with a week between each treatment. This may vary for the treatment of different conditions, and your vet will discuss a specific treatment plan with you.
On the day of treatment, your horse will be examined to ensure sedation can be safely used. Although the procedure is not painful, it can be quite uncomfortable for the horse, and sedation is usually necessary, especially when working on hindlimbs. Ideally the area to be treated should be shaved, to allow for optimum transmission of pressure waves through the skin, and ultrasound gel will be applied to the area.
The vet will then perform the treatment, which normally takes 10-15 minutes to carry out. No specific aftercare is required, although food must be withheld until the sedation has fully worn off. Occasionally the area can be a little tender for 24-48 hours after treatment, but this is not commonly seen.