POINTS EAST WEST VETERINARY SERVICES
Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Specialty Practice
Dr. David Lane, DVM, ACVSMR
EXTRACORPOREAL SHOCKWAVE THERAPY (ESWT)
Extracorporeal shockwave therapy doesn’t involve electric shocks. Shockwaves are sudden vibrations. The body is built to absorb shockwaves from activities such as running and jumping. These shockwaves trigger the release of growth factors that promote the development of bone, tendon and ligament. This is part of the reason why athletes have greater bone density than less active individuals.
Growth factors not only promote tissue growth; they are also powerful anti-inflammatories. This anti-inflammatory action can help relieve arthritis pain.
Extracorporeal shockwave therapy helps relieve the pain of chronic arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. Typically, it is recommended that extracorporeal shockwave therapy be applied a total of once a week for 3 weeks. If the treatment is going to work, benefit should be seen after the first treatment. After the completion of 3 treatments, improved comfort typically lasts for 3 months, after which only a single treatment is needed to provide comfort for each additional 3 month period.
Patients need to have a small area over the affected structure shaved before treatment. Generally, no sedation is required. Minor bruising of the affected area sometimes occurs. Chronic, long-standing conditions tend to respond better than recent conditions.
Treatment protocols vary depending on the nature and severity of the tendon lesion, but extracorporeal shockwave therapy has been shown to be effective in the treatment of damaged tendon and the resorption of tendon calcifications. Typical protocols involve 3 treatments spaced 2-3 weeks apart, coupled with an appropriate rehabilitation program.
Extracorporeal shockwave therapy has been shown to accelerate healing of bone following cruciate surgery, as well as stimulate the healing of bone following fracture repair. Speeding the rate of bone repair can help reduce the chance of complications following cruciate repair or other surgery.