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Cavallo Veterinary Services uses shockwave therapy for a number of injuries in the equine athlete. Extracorporeal shockwave (ESW) aims highly concentrated and powerful acoustic (sound) pressure waves at the area of interest.  These sound waves promote healing by stimulating the release of growth factors and increasing circulation to the area being treated.

The original use of shock waves to fragment uroliths (urinary stones) in humans was expanded to orthopedic applications when, following a safety study, the density of a portion of the pelvis within the treatment area increased. Multiple studies have documented the effectiveness of ESWs for treating hypertrophic nonunion fractures in people. Investigations into multiple other areas have led to the FDA approval of ESWs for heel spurs and tennis elbow.  The move of ESW therapy into “soft tissue” applications in human medicine has shown promise. Initial clinical studies in humans show promise in treating diabetic ulcers with shock wave therapy.


Equine conditions that can be treated with shockwave include:

  • Desmitis - such as suspensory, check and collateral ligaments

  • Tendonitis - such as SDFT, DDFT

  • Stable Stress Fractures

  • Periostitis

  • Splint bone fractures and exostosis

  • Wounds

  • Degenerative Joint Disease - Ringbone/Spavin etc

  • Sacroiliac pain

  • Back pain - Thoracolumbar and sacral

  • Overriding dorsal spinous processes - kissing spine

  • Sesamoiditis

  • Podotrochlear/heel pain - navicular disease

  • Muscle soreness/strains

  • Bone cysts 

Treatments are typically administered every two to three weeks for three treatments along with rest and controlled return to exercise. Depending on the injury or tissue being treated, healing will be monitored with serial ultrasound examinations and or radiographs.  Shockwave therapy provides a temporary analgesic, or pain relieving effect. Therefore, its use on the distal limbs is prohibited within the 36 hours prior to competition.  Shockwave therapy is however permitted to be used on the axial skeleton (back/SI) up to 12 hours prior to competition.

Visit AAEP for more info.

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