Extracorporeal shockwave is a non-invasive therapy that can be used to treat orthopedic and soft tissue injuries in horses. High-energy soundwaves are generated by the shockwave machine and directed to the targeted tissues. The pulses can lead to neovascularization (new blood vessel formation) and the up-regulation of cytokines (which aids in tissue healing). Studies have found that shockwave can increase bone formation and healing at bone-ligament junctions. Shockwave therapy is also used to manage bone pain. It is commonly used to treat pain from kissing spines and degenerative joint disease. Shockwave’s pain-relieving effects can last from 48 – 96 hours. More recently, shockwave has been used to increase the rate of healing in distal limb wounds and to decrease inflammation and exuberant granulation tissue.
The shockwave machine has various settings which allows your veterinarian to adjust the therapy for each horses’ unique case. Your veterinarian will determine the best regimen for your horse’s needs, but a common protocol involves one to three treatments at two to four-week intervals.
Shockwave therapy is portable and can be performed at the clinic or on the farm. It is typically well-tolerated by horses, though the treatment itself can be uncomfortable. Horses generally require light sedation and occasionally earplugs.