Uses of Shock Therapy in Horses Varies

Extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) has been used in humans to disintegrate kidney stones and treat musculoskeletal problems. The technology also has shown promise in alleviating bone and tendon ailments in the horse.

The School of Veterinary Medicine at Purdue University in Indiana started offering an ESWT program in June, using an Equitripsy system that was developed by Shock Waves Inc., of Marietta, Ga. Clinical trials conducted in Oklahoma beginning in the spring of 1998 showed that ESWT was particularly effective in treating navicular disease, arthritic changes in the hock, and saucer fractures.

According to Dr. Scott McClure, who directs the ESWT program at Purdue, the therapy also appears to be useful in the treatment of bucked shins "because of the need to stimulate osteogenesis on the dorsal aspect of the cannon bone."

ESWT, which is non-invasive, uses intense pressure waves, generated by a high-voltage spark under water. The pressure waves penetrate body tissues and can be focused on very small treatment areas.