Shockwave therapy, also referred to as ESWT (extracorporeal shockwave therapy), uses high-intensity sound waves to trigger the bodies’ healing mechanisms and alleviate pain, reduce inflammation, and enable long-term healing. This is a relatively new form of treatment that originated in the 1990s, and is quickly becoming more popular because of its amazing capabilities.
Shockwave therapy is frequently used on horses, but can also be useful for household pets like dogs and cats. It can treat chronic back pain, osteoporosis, injuries to joints and ligaments, chronic soft tissue wounds, and more ailments of the musculoskeletal system.
The process is non-invasive because the tool is only emitting sound waves into the affected area. Sometimes shockwave therapy is used in conjunction with a surgery to promote recovery and, in these cases, it may be applied directly after the procedure while the animal is still anesthetized.
A typical shockwave therapy session is around ten minutes long. The animal typically receives a short-acting sedative to ensure that they are comfortable and avoid distress. For dogs or other furry animals, it may be necessary to shave the fur in the area that is being treated.
Often the benefits of shockwave therapy appear to be immediately effective, but because the shockwaves are triggering the animal's natural healing response, it takes about 24 hours to have a full effect. For certain conditions, it is suggested that the patient will have a number of sessions over the course of several weeks.
After the session, we recommend that animals are closely monitored and not allowed to engage in strenuous activity. For example, race horses are not allowed to race for several days after receiving a shockwave therapy treatment. This is because the treatment masks pain, but the injury may not be fully healed yet. The animal may feel like they can run or strain the affected area, but this could cause a further injury.