Extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) is a relatively new treatment that has been adapted from human medicine for use in the horse. The machine used in the hospital generates a high intensity pressure wave which travels through fluid and tissue to be focused at the site of the injury. Shockwave treatments can be performed at the hospital or at your premises.
Shockwave therapy has been found to be most therapeutically beneficial treatment for injuries at the soft tissue-bone interface, i.e the attachement of ligaments to bone. These areas are often difficult to medicate, and unsuitable for surgery. Therefore, the non-invasive and focused attributes of ESWT have proved extremely valuable.
Examples of such injuries are:
- Proximal suspensory desmitis
- Collateral ligament injuries
- Navicular Disease
- Sacro-iliac injuries
ESWT has been shown to stimulate and accelerate the healing process. This is achieved by having an immediate analgesic (pain killing) effect and reducing the inflammation in the affected area.
Most treatment protocols to promote healing of acute injuries involve 1000-2500 impulses, delivered at the target area once every 2-3 three weeks for 3 treatments. The type and location of the injury determines the energy required, the depth of focus, and the number of pulses the tissue requires. The horses are usually restricted to stable rest and controlled exercise between treatments. The horses are then re-evaluated. Post treatment exercise levels are guided by the nature of the original injury and the improvement seen with treatment.
At Oakham we have been particularly impressed with the ESWT's ability to provide pain relief for those horses with chronic conditions such as kissings spines, mild proximal suspensory desmitis, and neck osteoarthritis. We treat a number of international competition horses with these conditions. The results and riders strongly support the pain killing and anti inflammatory effects. A shockwave treatment of a chronic injury in the week preceeding an event or competition really seems to help the horse's ability to perform.