Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy

Scott McClure, DVM, PhD, of Purdue University has been examining the use of extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) in the horse. He and other researchers working with ESWT presented their findings at the recent convention of the American Association of Equine Practitioners.

Extracorporeal shock waves are pressure waves generated outside the body that can be focused at a specific area within the body. The waves travel through fluid and soft tissue as a thin pressure line and affect sites where there is a change in the tissue, like where bone and soft tissue meet. Compression and tension are the means to treating the target tissue.

McClure found that ESWT did not cause equine soft tissue damage or microstructural changes in the bone, but did cause osteogenesis (bone formation) at the treated site.

David McCarroll, DVM, of Interstate Equine Services in Oklahoma presented a study by him and McClure involving ESWT treatment of bone spavin. They found that 80% of horses with osteoarthritis of the tarsometatarsal and distal intertarsal joints had an improvement of at least one grade of lameness with the non-invasive ESWT treatment, with no harmful effects.

Additionally, K. Josef Boening, DMV of the Tierärztliche Klinik Telgte in Germany, and his colleagues determined that ESWT is useful in treating chronic proximal suspensory ligament desmitis. Of 30 treated horses, 25 showed a reduction of pain, and horses that showed resolution of the initial damage ultrasonographically were able to return to full work after six months.

About the Author

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief, received a B.A. in Journalism and Equestrian Studies from Averett College in Danville, Virginia. A Pony Club and 4-H graduate, her background is in eventing, and she is schooling her recently retired Thoroughbred racehorse, Happy, toward a career in that discipline. She also enjoys traveling, photography, cycling, and cooking in her free time.

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