Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (ESWT) is a high energy, focused, sound wave treatment that penetrates deep into tissues. The sound wave is generated by a rapid increase in pressure (similar to lightening rapidly expanding the air around it and creating the thunder sound).
ESWT causes a biological response in tissues that stimulates tissues and accelerates the healing process. The process works by firing shock waves repeatedly at the targeted tissue. This creates micro trauma that stimulates increased blood flow. This increases new blood vessel formation allowing for better perfusion of the tissue. The micro trauma also triggers the body’s first step in the healing process, inflammation. At the site of inflammation there are chemical messengers alerting the body that repairs are needed. This can restart the healing process for chronic non healing injuries. Shockwave therapy then reduces inflammation and swelling at the treatment site by regulating inflammatory messengers.
Shockwave treatments are focused and can penetrate deeper than other treatments due to the nature of sound waves. This makes shockwave an excellent choice for treating musculoskeletal problems. Common uses for shockwave treatment include tendon, ligament, muscle injuries and strains, neck and back pain, osteoarthritis (such as ringbone), and wounds.
Shockwave therapy has a few additional beneficial properties. In a recent study, shockwave therapy was shown to relieve pain for 8-48 hours post treatment. Shockwave therapy may also have antibacterial properties. The sound waves can weaken bacterial cell walls making them more susceptible to the immune system. Best of all, shockwave therapy works well with other treatments such as laser therapy and acupuncture! Ask your Starwood veterinarian if shockwave would be beneficial for your horse!