In physics, a “shock wave” is defined as a rapid, high-energy pressure wave formed by the sudden compression of the medium through which the wave moves. Real world examples of shock waves include the sound of a gunshot, an explosion, or thunder.
It is technically ‘acoustic’ or ‘sound’ energy. Initially, this treatment was utilized in medicine to break up large, brittle kidney stones so that could then pass out of the body without surgical intervention. This procedure is known as ‘Lithotripsy’ and has been the standard of care for treating kidney stones since the 1980s.
Research has also revealed that compressive and tensile stresses placed on cells by shock waves result in the release of specific proteins which have many beneficial healing effects:
Angiogenic growth factors which lead to increased localized blood flow
Osteogenic growth factors which lead to increased bone growth and bone density
Inflammatory proteins which lead to improved and more rapid tissue healing
Clinical benefits of shock wave therapy include accelerated and more complete bone, tendon, ligament, and other soft tissue healing, chronic pain management, and accelerated wound healing.
Shock wave therapy is a high energy treatment, and is frequently utilized when more conservative modalities, such as laser therapy, anti-inflammatory drugs, and physical therapy have been unsuccessful.
Shock wave therapy is usually delivered in a series of up to 3 treatments with a 2 – 3 week gap in between treatments. These high impact treatments can be quite uncomfortable and may require sedation or anesthesia due to the intensity of the treatment.
Shock wave therapy has been utilized effectively in equine sports medicine for about 15 years, and recent and on-going research is leading to greater utilization in treating dogs and cats.
For more information, check out the educational resources available at www.pulsevet.com .
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