At Montana Equine, we have been using an ancillary treatment modality called “shockwave” for 4 years now. We use non-invasive shockwave therapy as a healing aide for certain equine injuries. So, what is shockwave?
There are two forms of shockwave – focused shockwave and radial shockwave. In general, shockwaves are actually pressure waves created by acoustic (sound) energy, not electric shocks as some people presume. The focused shockwave unit (“FOCUS-IT”, made by Storz) is non-invasive, and sends a very precise, very brief burst of acoustical energy through the tissues. The acoustical energy has been shown to increase local blood flow, and to increase the activity of cells in the treated area therefore decreasing healing time of certain injuries by stimulating regeneration of tissues.
Focused shockwave is much more effective than radial shockwave. Radial shockwave therapy delivers much less energy to the tissues, especially to deeper tissues, and its efficacy is probably limited. Therefore, we utilize only focused shockwave treatments at Montana Equine.
While ligament and tendon injuries have healed on their own for a number of years with rest and rehabilitation alone, focused shockwave has been clinically proven to decrease the healing time required for suspensory ligament and superficial digital flexor tendon injuries. In addition, shockwave has been proven to decrease healing time of skin wounds.
In addition to decreasing healing time, research has also shown that the shockwave temporarily decreases pain (for 5-7 days) by blunting nerve signaling from the treated area. Because of the proven analgesic effect of focused shockwave therapy, we have also used this modality on horses that have sore lumbar (back) muscles and sacroiliac ligaments. As a result of the analgesic effect of shockwave therapy, the FEI and certain racing clubs have established rules requiring a withdrawal time.
If you have questions about whether shockwave may help your horse, please don’t hesitate to call the clinic and ask one of our veterinarians. You can find additional information on the FOCUS-IT website http://eswt.net/