Shockwave therapy – officially called extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT) – uses acoustic energy directed to target treatment areas of an animal’s body. The shockwaves trigger the body’s repair mechanisms, enabling healing and long-term improvement of a variety of conditions. In ESWT, high-intensity sound waves interact with the tissues of the body, leading to development of new blood vessels, reversal of chronic inflammation, stimulation of collagen and dissolution of calcium build-up.
Studies of shockwave therapy for dogs have shown positive results in improving bone healing, soft tissue damage, joint inflammation, and both the progression and pain of osteoarthritis.
Conditions that can be effectively treated with shockwave therapy include:
Hip and Elbow dysplasia
Degenerative joint disease
Tendon and Ligament injuries
Non- or delayed healing bone fractures
Chronic or non-healing wounds.
Actual Results of ESWT for Dogs
According to Clinician’s Brief:
Of 4 dogs treated for non-healing fractures, 3 had significant improvement in bone healing following ESWT treatment.
In a study of dogs with distal radial fracture non-unions (a break near the bottom of the front limb, just above the wrist joint), all dogs that received ESWT showed complete bone healing after 12 weeks, while no dogs in the control group achieved complete bony union.
In a study of dogs with lameness resulting from soft tissue shoulder conditions, 88 percent showed improvement after shockwave therapy, with no surgical intervention.
ESWT was also shown to significantly reduce distal ligament thickening in dogs with inflammation of knee joints following surgery for a CCL rupture.
Shockwave therapy has proved beneficial in promoting the development of new blood vessels at the bone-tendon interface of the Achilles tendon in dogs.
ESWT has been shown to modulate osteoarthritis in animals by decreasing production of nitric oxide in joints and inhibiting cell death in healthy cartilage. Shockwave therapy can also be beneficial in managing the pain of arthritis.
Studies have demonstrated positive results in joint range of motion and peak vertical force in dogs with knee, hip and elbow arthritis.
Treatment Specifics and Average Timeframes
Treatment time depends on the strength of the shockwaves and the number of locations being treated. A common dose is 800-1000 pulses per site, which can be accomplished in under 4 minutes.
Animals normally begin to experience pain relief from ESWT after the 2nd or 3rd treatment. ESWT Therapy is recommended every 2-5 days for a total of 5-8 treatments (depending on severity of the condition being treated).
With severely arthritic patients, a ESWT series may be required every 6 to 12 months.
Shockwave therapy should be used in conjunction with rehabilitation to return patients to full activity.
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