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Regenerative Shock Wave Therapy for Horses

Tendon and ligament injuries can be some of the most difficult injuries for a horse to recover from. Luckily, advances in modern technology, specifically shock wave therapy, can improve the healing process and offer pain relief. Mid-Rivers Equine Centre is proud to announce that we now offer extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) using focused shock wave therapy.

What is ESWT?

ESWT, or "extracorporeal shock wave therapy," is opening new doors in equine health. This regenerative medical treatment uses high intensity shock waves as an effective and non-invasive method of healing. Don't worry—"shock waves" do not allude to actual electrical shocks, but rather a rapid rise in pressure that is generated by electricity. The wave carries energy and is characterized by a sudden increase in "pressure, temperature, and density." This method produces a biological response that releases growth factors and induces new blood vessel formation.

Shock Wave Therapy Accomplishes More in Equine Medicine

In addition to helping your horse recover from an injury, shock wave therapy improves the quality of healing. The goal of healing is to repair damaged tissue, but the body does not always heal an injury back to its original strength. Our goal is to improve the quality of healing to an injury (the return to original strength prior to injury) through the use of ESWT.

ESWT promotes the release of growth factors that work to improve healing quality and increase blood flow. It stimulates a reaction on the cellular level to affect proteins that produce anti-inflammatory agents. This biological response can be beneficial for patients suffering from degenerative joint disease, otherwise known as arthritis. By promoting natural bodily processes, shockwave therapy helps your horse recover and works to prevent future re-injury.

Using ESWT as Part of A Multi-Modal Treatment Plan

When used correctly, ESWT can improve the efficacy of other treatments and is usually part of a multi-modal treatment plan. Frequently, shock wave therapy is used in conjunction with:

• IRAP therapy, or "Interleukin-1 Receptor Antagonist Protein" Therapy
• PRP therapy, or "Platelet Rich Plasma" Therapy
• Stem Cell Therapy

These other treatments, such as PRP, can be too focused to significantly affect a widespread injury and shockwaves improve the treatments' reach.

Common situations that can be aided by shockwave treatment include:

• Osteoarthritis and degenerative joint disease
• Tendon and ligament injuries
• Chronic wounds
• Bone healing

These injuries can be some of the most difficult injuries for horses to recover from.

What to Expect From Treatment

Pre-Treatment Considerations

Healthy horses are a handful when it comes to traveling, so needless to say, sick, old, or injured horses are even more difficult to move across long distances. Luckily, ESWT units are portable. Therefore, Mid Rivers can perform shockwave therapy on your farm or at our hospital. The only deciding factor is what works best for you and your horse.

Performing Shockwave Therapy

Therapy usually consists of a series of 3 treatments approximalty 2-3 weeks apart. Some patients can require a 4th or 5th treatments. However, treating with ESWT beyond this amount will unlikely improve therapeutic effect.

Each treatment is delivered by focusing intense high energy pulses directly at the particular problematic area on the horse's body. Energy levels and depths of penetration are determined by the location of the patient's injury. Since this process is loud and can cause some discomfort to the horse, a sedative is sometimes administered to keep patients comfortable and calm, in addition to ensuring optimal results.

ESWT is also useful in horses that have pain secondary to other problems such as back soreness secondary to hind limb lameness. These cases don't necessarily need to undergo a series of 3 treatments but may benefit from a single treatment at the same time that the lameness is being treated.

Post-Treatment Considerations

Studies have shown that ESWT has an analgesic (pain relieving) effect up to 48 hours after treatment which could put the horse at risk for making an injury worse. This is important for horses that have a diagnosed injury that involves structural damage. Certain regulatory agencies have restrictions regarding the use of ESWT around the time of athletic competition.

Our veterinarians will design and provide a customized back-to-work treatment plan individualized for each patient. Many factors help determine these plans, including:

• Age
• Breed
• Type of injury/disease
• Other medical history

Hand walking and controlled exercise are safe activities and actually contribute to the patient's recovery. Depending on your horse's original injury, many patients may be able to return to work shortly after shockwave therapy.

The Shockwave Choice

There are several different types of ESWT. However, unlike some other forms of ESWT, focused shock wave therapy has been proven to be extremely beneficial in helping horses recover and in relieving pain. ESWT is more affordable than other treatment options and is often covered by insurance. Talk to your insurance provider prior to treatment.

Help your horse improve its ability to heal and prevent recurring injuries. Call Mid-Rivers today to discuss shockwave therapy and the potential benefits for your horse.

November 20, 2014

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