Shock waves boost healing in horses – but how? | TSLN.com

Shock waves boost healing in horses – but how?

Don Vosburg

For 30 years a common treatment for humans with kidney stones has involved sending small focused sonic pulses – termed shock waves – into kidney stones, breaking them up into smaller pieces without damaging surrounding tissues. The medical procedure is known as lithotripsy.

About 12 years ago a veterinary surgeon and researcher at Iowa State University tried using the lithotripsy concept to speed healing of injured horses. Dr. Scott McClure found that applying shock waves – known as extracorporal shock wave therapy (ESWT) – improved the healing process in horses with injuries where soft tissues attach to bone.

“When we treated horse injuries that would compare to shin splints in humans,” McClure says, “we found the body responded to shock wave therapy by building new bone. Specifically, that early research showed that shock waves really helped the healing process in injuries to ligaments and to areas of tendon-bone attachment.”

Today, McClure continues to use ESWT on a variety of horse injuries, from deep skin burns to leg wounds. Although the exact mechanism of how ESWT speeds or improves healing is not well understood, McClure says, research has shown two important results. First, shock waves stimulate the body to form new blood vessels (termed revascularization). Second, shock waves cause the release of important growth factors within the body and specifically at wound sites where ESWT has been applied. These two findings could have far-reaching effects in both human and veterinary medicine, he says.

For 30 years a common treatment for humans with kidney stones has involved sending small focused sonic pulses – termed shock waves – into kidney stones, breaking them up into smaller pieces without damaging surrounding tissues. The medical procedure is known as lithotripsy.

About 12 years ago a veterinary surgeon and researcher at Iowa State University tried using the lithotripsy concept to speed healing of injured horses. Dr. Scott McClure found that applying shock waves – known as extracorporal shock wave therapy (ESWT) – improved the healing process in horses with injuries where soft tissues attach to bone.

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“When we treated horse injuries that would compare to shin splints in humans,” McClure says, “we found the body responded to shock wave therapy by building new bone. Specifically, that early research showed that shock waves really helped the healing process in injuries to ligaments and to areas of tendon-bone attachment.”

Today, McClure continues to use ESWT on a variety of horse injuries, from deep skin burns to leg wounds. Although the exact mechanism of how ESWT speeds or improves healing is not well understood, McClure says, research has shown two important results. First, shock waves stimulate the body to form new blood vessels (termed revascularization). Second, shock waves cause the release of important growth factors within the body and specifically at wound sites where ESWT has been applied. These two findings could have far-reaching effects in both human and veterinary medicine, he says.

For 30 years a common treatment for humans with kidney stones has involved sending small focused sonic pulses – termed shock waves – into kidney stones, breaking them up into smaller pieces without damaging surrounding tissues. The medical procedure is known as lithotripsy.

About 12 years ago a veterinary surgeon and researcher at Iowa State University tried using the lithotripsy concept to speed healing of injured horses. Dr. Scott McClure found that applying shock waves – known as extracorporal shock wave therapy (ESWT) – improved the healing process in horses with injuries where soft tissues attach to bone.

“When we treated horse injuries that would compare to shin splints in humans,” McClure says, “we found the body responded to shock wave therapy by building new bone. Specifically, that early research showed that shock waves really helped the healing process in injuries to ligaments and to areas of tendon-bone attachment.”

Today, McClure continues to use ESWT on a variety of horse injuries, from deep skin burns to leg wounds. Although the exact mechanism of how ESWT speeds or improves healing is not well understood, McClure says, research has shown two important results. First, shock waves stimulate the body to form new blood vessels (termed revascularization). Second, shock waves cause the release of important growth factors within the body and specifically at wound sites where ESWT has been applied. These two findings could have far-reaching effects in both human and veterinary medicine, he says.

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