Kent Veterinary Center

Centreville Equine


Extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) for Dogs

Extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) represents an alternative or adjunct treatment for lame dogs who aren't candidates for traditional medical management or those who have responded poorly to the treatments.

Not all cases of canine lameness stand to benefit from treatment with ESWT, but evidence suggests that the therapy can help to diminish lameness/pain associated with these conditions:

             - Osteoarthritis of the hips, elbows and knees. Shock waves don't appear to slow the progression of the disease; rather, they appear to decrease the pain associated with the condition. This pain reduction might be the result of decreased inflammation in the joint or a reduction in the conduction of pain impulses through the nerves, both of which are thought to be results of ESWT.

             - Lameness associated with the shoulder instability (rotator cuff)

             - Cruciate ligament tears and similar injuries.

             - Hip dysplasia

             - Ligament injuries

             - Tendonitis

             - Back pain, including that associated with lumbosacral disease, a compression of nerves in the lower back.

             - Bone fractures that are slow to heal.

             - Arthritis

The procedure is less expensive and less invasive than surgery, and more than 85 percent of patients with certain conditions experience benefits.

Shock waves are actually focused, high-energy sound waves administered to the afflicted part of the body via a specialized piece of equipment. The effects that ESWT have on tissue are complex and not entirely understood at present, but generally, the treatment works by triggering the body's own repair mechanisms. When applied, shock waves ignite a series of biological responses that ultimately help to improve the flow of blood (a process called neovascularization). They also stimulate tissue regeneration and encourage bone healing and tendon repair.  

When ESWT is warranted, the treatment is usually carried out on an outpatient basis. The patient is sedated, or lightly anesthetized, and the therapy usually takes 10 to 20 minutes. Shaving over the effected area may be needed to ensure good contact. No known serious risks have been associated with the procedure itself.  The fee per treatment is $250 , plus sedation.

In most cases, dogs begin experiencing pain relief immediately after treatment, and full effects are seen from three weeks to three months. Additional shock wave treatments within several weeks often improve the results further.  

Treatment protocols for ESWT vary depending on the patient and the disease. Typically for shoulder lameness three treatments three to four weeks apart are necessary. Some dogs may benefit from monthly treatments. Other dogs may have a treatment effect for 12 to 18 months. A typical response for most dogs may be a treatment every 4 to 6 months.