Shock Wave Therapy
Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy has been in use in the human and equine sports fields for some time.
It involves the delivery of high impact short duration physical ‘shock waves’ to an area of damaged or inflamed tissue.
Used primarily for the treatment of lameness or back pain the machine delivers a series of shocks (physical rather than electric) focused on the site of tissue damage and this is usually repeated at 7-10 day intervals for up to three occasions.
The exact mechanism of its action at a cellular level is not clear but there is evidence that it can improve and increase blood flow to the area, reduce pain by suppression of nerve ending activity and increase tendon, ligament and bone generation.
It is important that the right amount of focused energy is dissipated in the tissues under treatment and the veterinary surgeon in charge of the case will determine the level of intensity and the duration required for best effect.
Horses usually require mild sedation to receive the treatment, as not only does the probe produce a rather ‘odd’ sensation at the time of application but also there is a loud series of ‘clicks’ coming from the machine generating the pressure waves. In some cases it may be necessary to administer a nerve block to anaesthetise the area being treated if the horse is particularly sensitive to the sensation.
It should be remembered that this therapy will be used only after a diagnosis has been reached and that it will often be used in combination with other therapies.
The BHA and FEI authorities do not allow the use of SWT within seven days of a race or competition. This is to ensure that the system is not being used just to ‘mask’ pain immediately before competing.
If you wish to find out more about SWT please do not hesitate to call one of our veterinary surgeons who will be happy to discuss protocols, costs and applications with you.