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Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy
29 April 2018
Your dog is an athlete! This may not be a surprise if you own a Border Collie, but even a Miniature Poodle has an incredible level of physical performance. Just like athletes, our dogs suffer from injuries such as muscle tears, ligament sprains and tendon strains. Sometimes these injuries occur from an isolated accident or fall but sometimes they can be an early warning of other joint problems. If your pet has, for example, a sore shoulder, it is quite possible there is a problem in a different part of the leg that puts extra load on that shoulder, leading to injury. At Willows we understand the complexity of orthopaedic disease and will always pursue an accurate diagnosis.
While most ligament and tendon injuries can improve with appropriate rest, recurrent injury is common. These soft tissue injuries can take 6 months to heal but our dogs often feel better in a few weeks and will use their injured legs normally unless we are very careful. When these injuries continue to recur, it can be very difficult to get your pet back to being sound. Physiotherapy can be very useful but often we have to use anti-inflammatory injections or even surgery.
Extracorporeal shockwave therapy is a new treatment for ligament and tendon injuries. It has nothing to do with ‘electric shocks’! Instead compressed air is used to deliver carefully controlled pulses of energy to the injured area. This physical energy stimulates cells to repair the damaged tissue. It is not painful and we only very rarely have to sedate dogs to have the treatment. Indeed because of an initial and rapid pain relieving effect, dogs often find it quite relaxing! Typically a course of three treatments, 10-14 days apart, is recommended. We tend to see a gradual and lasting improvement following the second treatment. We will usually combine shockwave therapy with other treatments appropriate for other orthopaedic diseases your dog might have.
In people, extracorporeal shockwave therapy has become the treatment of choice in some conditions where surgery was previously recommended or in conditions that once proved very difficult to treat. We have found that in certain diseases in dogs, excellent outcomes can be achieved with shockwave therapy. Treatment with shockwave therapy can have a long lasting or permanent benefit and may mean general anaesthesia and surgery is not required. Side effects are minimal and the treatment is very safe.
Another presentation we see commonly are older dogs who have osteoarthritis in multiple joints. Often these patients are given pain relieving medication but remain stiff and slow to walk. However these patients often have painful muscles and tendons, in addition to arthritic joints. We can use extracorporeal shockwave therapy as part of multimodal therapy to manage pain in these patients, often to great effect.
If you are concerned about long-standing orthopaedic disease in your pet, ask your vet for referral to one of our Orthopaedic Specialists who will be delighted to discuss and investigate their lameness, and devise a treatment plan with you.
For more information, click here to visit Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy.
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