Shockwave therapy is a non-invasive, safe treatment that can increase the healing rate of soft tissue injuries and orthopedic conditions. Shockwave therapy administers high energy waves to the site of injury in the horse in short, high energy pulses that travel quickly at a rate of 1,500 meters per second – repositioning surrounding tissues. Contrary to its name, shockwave therapy is not associated with electricity. Shockwaves, or high pressure sound waves, are created inside a probe head that are then transferred through the skin, fat and muscle of the horse.
When the shockwaves are directed to the injury site, the high energy waves slow and energy is released to the nearby tissues, stimulating the process by which cells repair the body. Shockwaves can be tailored to the type of injury, with different probes allowing different shockwave depths to be administered to the tissue. This tailored therapy enables superficial injuries, such as lower limb tendons and wounds, to be treated as well as deeper injuries including muscles, back and sacroiliac joints.
Shockwave therapy can be used to help treat conditions such as tendonitis in performance horses, osteoarthritis, back pain, deep muscle pain, bone injuries and stress fractures, ligament injuries, inflammation of the suspensory ligament, and navicular disease. Different from injectable or surgical treatments, shockwave therapy does not require a sterile environment, needles, bandaging or an extended recovery and is generally tolerated by most horses.
Shockwave therapy has been shown to stimulate stem cells to the treated area, which minimizes scarring and more closely replicates original tissue formation. Shockwave therapy has also been shown to stimulate new bone and blood vessel growth to help restore horses to pre-injury performance.
Consult with your equine veterinarian to discuss if shockwave therapy is a viable treatment option for your horse.