When it comes to our horses, quality is everything. This is especially true in the prevention and treatment of injuries. Top veterinarians know that there is only one choice when it comes to quality shock wave therapy: PulseVet. The mission of PulseVet is to improve the quality of life of the animals we love by developing, validating, and providing advanced therapies at the highest level of support and service. PulseVet is proud to offer the only shock wave generator made in the United States and the only shock wave treatment backed by science—over 20 years’ worth. As a result of this science, PulseVet treatments are covered by most equine medical insurance.
What Is Shock Wave Therapy?
Described as both safe and effective, extracorporeal shock wave therapy, or ESWT, involves applying shock waves to an injured area of the body. The “extracorporeal” part of the name refers to the fact that the shock waves are generated outside the body. Shock waves are intense but short energy pulses that travel so quickly—a whopping 1,500 meters per second—they literally break the sound barrier. This is the same event that occurs when airplanes break the speed of sound, except in a much smaller format.
A probe attached to a generator unit, called a trode, directs the shock waves to the injured region of the horse. Shock wave machines often have several trodes capable of delivering shock waves to different tissue depths, allowing veterinarians to treat superficial injuries, such as wounds or lower limb tendons that are close to the skin’s surface, and deeper injuries, such as muscles or back joints.
Classified among physical therapy/rehabilitation techniques, extracorporeal shock wave therapy remains an essential tool for helping manage a variety of equine conditions/ injuries.¹ Issues amenable to ESWT in horses include, but are not limited to:
- Tendinopathy/tendinitis, a leading cause of injury in athletic horses;
- Desmitis (ligament injuries, inflammation), especially where ligaments insert onto bone (e.g., chronic injury/inflammation of the suspensory ligament located at the back of the cannon bone);
- Osteoarthritis (OA, degenerative joint disease), including bone spavin (OA of the lower hock joint);
- Bone injuries such as stress fractures of the outer portion of the cannon bone (dorsal cortical stress fractures) and incomplete fractures of the sesamoid bones;
- Navicular disease or, more accurately, podotrochlosis; and
- Deep muscle pain (thoracolumbar, gluteal) typically involving the back or sacroiliac region.
As you can see, this list primarily involves musculoskeletal conditions. Unfortunately, musculoskeletal injuries occur commonly in horses, and all too frequently result in loss of use, early retirement, or even euthanasia. Combined with the fact that some injuries, such as lesions involving the superficial digital flexor tendon, have a propensity to recur despite extensive rest and controlled exercise programs², modalities such as ESWT continue to gain popularity in managing them.
As with any intervention, seek your veterinarian’s advice before beginning any therapy to avoid further compromising your horse’s well-being.
It is important to remember that not all shock wave generators are the same, so be sure to ask for PulseVet treatments by name. PulseVet is proud to be the only shock wave generator made in the United States and backed by 20 years of science. To find a veterinarian near you that utilizes PulseVet, visit www.zomedica.com/pulsevet.
- Kaneps AJ. Practical rehabilitation and physical therapy for the general equine practitioner. Vet Clin North Am Equine Pract 2016;32(1):167-180.
- Clegg P. Translational rehabilitation from human to horse: strategies for tendon rehabilitation. Proceedings of the European College of Veterinary Surgeons Annual Scientific Meeting 2016;102-103.