Shockwave therapy is a treatment modality used for a number of injuries in the equine athlete. Extracorporeal shockwave machines aim highly concentrated and powerful sound waves at the area being treated. These sound waves promote healing by stimulating the release of growth factors and increasing circulation to the area being treated.
Shockwave therapy has been used and studied for quite some time now in horses. Suspensory ligament desmitis, superficial or deep digital tendonitis, and other soft-tissue injuries respond favorably to treatment with shockwave therapy. In the case of soft-tissue injuries of the horse, treatments are typically administered once every two weeks for three to five treatments in conjunction with rest and controlled return to exercise. Healing of the injured tendon is monitored with serial ultrasound examinations.
Shockwave therapy provides a temporary analgesic, or pain relieving effect. Therefore, its use on the legs of the horse is prohibited within the 36 hours prior to competition to avoid masking an injury and causing a horse to further injure itself in competition. Shockwave therapy is a very useful modality for treating back or sacroiliac soreness and is permitted up to 12 hours prior to competition for this purpose, however.