Shockwave therapy began being used in the U.S. in veterinary medicine around the year 2000. It is a non-invasive treatment that can speed the healing of many types of orthopedic and soft tissue injuries and conditions. It has been used successfully to treat animals with both acute and chronic soft tissue injuries, bone and joint disease, and back pain.
A shockwave is a pressure wave – any action that displaces its surrounding medium is a shockwave. The ripple created when a stone is thrown into a pond is a shockwave. The shockwaves used in equine medicine are generated in a fluid medium inside a transducer head and are then transmitted readily through skin, fat, and muscle. The high energy waves are focused within the transducer head so that the shockwave can be directed to the precise area of the injury. When shockwaves hit an area of higher acoustic impedance, such as bone, the waves slow dramatically and a large amount of energy is released into the surrounding tissue.
WHAT CAN SHOCKWAVE TREAT IN HORSES?
Shockwave therapy has been shown to stimulate new bone growth, increase cell permeability and stimulate stem cells in the animal’s body to be directed to the treated area. Shockwave therapy has been successfully used to treat many soft tissue and bony problems, both acute and chronic. These include, but are not limited to:
- Suspensory ligament tears and strains horse
- Suspensory injuries with avulsion fractures
- Tendon tears and strains
- Collateral ligament injuries
- Repair ligament injuries
- Deep digital flexor tendon injuries
- Navicular syndrome
- Joint inflammation and pain
- Back pain
- Neck pain
- Muscle tears and strains
- Repair ligament injuries
- Infected or large wounds
TREATMENT AND RESULTS
The precise treatment protocol depends on the diagnosis of each individual patient. Treatment varies in the number of shockwaves administered and the energy of those shockwaves. Most conditions are treated a total of three times spaced at 2-3 week intervals. Occasionally, additional treatments will be required in more severe injuries. The treatments are easily performed at your facility with the horse under mild sedation.
Typically, the horse will start to see some reduction in pain and/or swelling within hours. This will generally last 2-4 days and then the horse will return to close to the original status. Then, over the next two to three weeks, actual healing will take place.
ARE ALL SHOCKWAVE MACHINES EQUAL?
No. There are several machines currently marketed as shockwave machines that do not generate a true shockwave. They generate what is called a ballistic or radial wave. The physics of this type of wave are completely different from that of a true shockwave. A ballistic or radial wave is created when a projectile is rapidly accelerated by compressed air – it looks like a small jackhammer. The problem with this type of wave is that all of the energy is deposited at the skin, and the energy drops off rapidly as you move away from the skin. The result being that unless the injury is at the skin, the injured area is not receiving the necessary energy to help the healing process. Additionally, since the wave is not focused with this type of machine, the entire area around the treatment site is receiving the wave, which can potentially have harmful effects.
Chastain Equine uses the NeoVet, a focused shockwave this is the next generation in shockwave treatment. It builds on the success of the former gold standard machine in equine medicine, but the Neo was developed specifically for equine practice. The Neo combines 14 years of research with Swiss engineering with invaluable veterinary feedback and precision. Additionally, the energy level and the depth of penetration of the shockwaves can be varied to suit the injury.