Shock Wave Therapy

What are Shock Waves?

Shock waves are sound waves that travel through tissue at very high speeds. The signal profile of the shock wave is shown below in red. Essentially, shock waves are high pressure pulses. Compare this to ultrasound, shown below in blue.

comparison of three different acoustic waves
Comparison of three different acoustic waves, shock wave in red.

How is the Healing Response Triggered?

Each shock wave pulse causes a sudden pressure spike that travels throughout the tissue (see image below). Cells respond to sudden pressure changes with alarm, just like a person would to a thunderclap, and release distress signals, which trigger the body’s healing response. Shock wave therapy keeps the body’s repair process going until the injury is completely healed.

shock waves trigger the body to heal itself
Shock wave sudden pressure spike that causes the body’s natural healing process to continue.

What is the Biologic Response?

Extracorporeal (externally applied) shock wave therapy physically stimulates a cell’s biologic response and healing mechanisms. The specificity of the response to the physical stimulus is cell-dependent and leads to several biologic responses including:

  • Reduction of inflammation and, as a result, pain
  • Release of growth factors
  • Activation of stem cells, platelets, etc
  • Increased blood flow

At Aiken Equine, shock wave therapy can be utilized as a part of a treatment program tailored to your horse’s unique needs. If you would like more information about shock wave or discuss it as an option for your horse, please feel free to contact us.