Shock wave therapy for veterinarians – an overview


The first successful disintegration of kidney stones was on February 8th 1980 in Munich, Bavaria. At that time the milestone for one of the most successful non-invasive therapies was set. In the mid-1990s the extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) was first used for orthopaedic indications. For this purpose, modified urological lithotripters were employed, which, however, did not become established in medical practice because of their shape, size and high investment costs. 1999 marked the beginning of the successful »career« of radial shock waves in orthopaedic pain therapy. Compact and conveniently priced shock wave systems became available for orthopaedic treatments for the first time. The treatments for horses started at the same time.

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Shock wave treatment has become a standard procedure in pain therapy not only for humans, but also for equine and small animals. The systems available in the market use radial or focused shock waves. Focused shock waves are ideal for deep-seated target areas. Pressure waves – also referred to as radial shock waves – are generated pneumatically and used in the treatment of superficial indications. Today, orthopaedic pain therapy uses primarily radial shock wave systems because of their ease of use, absence of side effects and ongoing technological improvements. Research and development have produced better materials for the different transmitters. As a result, the range of applications was greatly extended over time and the treatment became much more comfortable for patients as well for horses and small animals. Depending on the transmitter employed, radial shock waves may reach a depth of up to 60 mm.

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Shock waves have demonstrated to produce antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects. Also, growth factors have been found in vessels, bones and connective tissue. Besides analgesic effects observed immediately during the therapy, shock waves primarily produce long-term results. Generally speaking, it can be said that the biological effects induced by shock waves produce a time-shifted and sustained response inside the body. However, pain tolerance varies between equine and small animals, and they respond differently to shock wave therapy. Thus, accurate diagnostic examination and differential diagnosis are, of course, fundamental pillars of successful treatment. Likewise Radial shock waves play an increasingly important role in equine physiotherapy to treat muscular imbalances, tendon problems and chronic suspensory inflammation.

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Proven Results

Shock wave therapy was once a debated treatment option. Now there are scores of case studies that support its effectiveness. In addition, improvements in technology have made the equipment more efficient and capable of delivering shock waves with minimal or no discomfort to the horse and small animal. Some models, such as the DUOLITH® VET can deliver both radial and focused shock wave.

Indications for horses

  • Insertional desmopathies
  • Tendinopathy with and without calcification
  • Myopathies
  • Arthrosis
  • Podotrochlosis syndrome
  • Trigger points
  • Sore muscles
  • Ringbone
  • Kissing spines
  • Sacroiliac issues
  • Ligament injuries
  • Deep heel pain

Indications for small animals, especially dogs

  • Tendinopathy
  • Hip and elbow dysplasia
  • Coxarthrosis
  • Cubarthrosis
  • Painful scar tissue
  • Chronic back pain

Advantages and benefits

  • provides fast pain reduction
  • speeds healing in affected areas and decreases healing time
  • has no side effects
  • requires no sedation, medication or anaesthesia
  • is portable, brings the therapy to the horse
  • is very cost effective compared to other treatments
  • requires normally not more than 3 – 5 sessions


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Sabato, 08 Agosto 2020

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