FDA & Shockwave

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has approved applications SWT (Shock Wave Therapy) for tennis elbow and plantar fascitis and kidney stones. Since 1980 hundreds of thousands of people have been treated primarily for kidney stones.*

What is it? 

The brochure by Swiss DlorClast ( manufacturer) refers to SWT as a high impulse frequency treatment. The frequency range is 1-15 Hz which fires direct pluses in rapid fire of selectable impulse repetitions; a pneumatic hand held piece which is held at the site with ultrasound screen to view the area as it is being treated (this in my opinion is the only cool thing about this treatment).

How it’s Done

Most horses in the studies done were first shaved, then had conductive gel applied and usually are anesthetized with lidocaine or tranquilized. Having to anesthetize or tranquilize an area first, tells you it is not tolerated well by horses. The treatment is considered non-invasive, but the prep (having to give an injection), is not non-invasive and has it own risks. Having had a personal demonstration, I can tell you it feels like a jack hammer! By changing instrument selections in Hz and Impulses it can be from tolerably to quite unpleasant.

Last Resort

The reason the treatment is supposedly recommend is because of the failure of traditional treatments. One of the conditions selected for German study (00) was for chronic desmitis of the proximal suspensory ligament. Treating 30 horses with 3 treatments each over 6 months, 18 horses returned back to a full work load, 3 showed no pain reduction at all and the balance had mixed results. The studies claim success based on some improvement of pain reduction in 22 out of the 30 horses. Out of this group, it is claimed 7 showed complete resolution of the initial damage.

It’s Not Cheap

Costs of the treatments varies from $375.00 to $600.00 per treatment depending solely on the discretion of the vet offering this service. So, it could cost you anywhere from $1175.00 to $1800.00 to be possibly in the 7 out of 30 group. In my book, this treatment is too expensive for a possible reduction in pain when microcurrent, IontoPhoresis, and myofascial release can provide the same possible outcome for a fraction of the cost. In extreme cases when time is of the essence and there is serious scaring or tissue fibers that have ended up in a miss mash of growth; one or two applications of shock waves could provide a quick break up of tissue. When followed up with microcurrent and IontoPhoresis to reduce the inflammation and damage done by traumatizing the tissue with the shock waves the out come has been successful per therapist, Bambi Dore.

So, why the sudden push of this treatment? It’s been highly profitable in the kidney stone business for years. The Veterinarians that have purchased this equipment can only recover their investment by selling treatments. Even though claims are made that this is a non-invasive treatment; all of the tissue is being traumatized. That is why the National Institute of Health has been conducting a study over the past 20 years to take a look at the side affects from having had Shockwave Therapy for Kidney Stones.

The Kidney Stone was the target but all the tissue between the surface of the skin to the stone is affected and many patients are suffering pain even though it was claimed a success because the stones are gone. On horse legs it seems it might be okay in limited use to break up misaligned scar tissue from a very old injury, that was not treated properly in the first place. (Did you know microcurrent will realign tissue?) The leg area tissue is not as dense as other structures of fascia. However, using on back pain as many vets are, seems dangerously foolish to me.

I’m not an expert, but I can read and I do listen to my customers who have experienced the failed results of SWT. So, consider the risks carefully before choosing SWT.

My advice for your horses sake, is to try MicroCurrent, IontoPhoresis, and Myofascial Release, singly or in combination before doing Shockwave Therapy.

CONCERNS: What we’re not being told

Statement of the Problem and Main Goals of our Research Effort – When shock wave lithotripsy (SWL) was introduced in the mid-1980’s it was accepted almost immediately. Growth in popularity was extremely rapid and was based in part on the perception that SWL was entirely safe. Now after nearly 12 years of clinical SWL studies, experience tells us differently. SWL may be very effective at breaking kidney stones, but it can also cause severe, acute, and chronic side effects.

Unfortunately, the rapid acceptance of SWL out-distanced efforts to determine objective criteria for safe clinical treatment. Today, treatment protocols vary among clinical centers and it is only recently that clinical and basic research has begun to address the adverse effects associated with lithotripsy. Thus, very little is known about how shock waves (SW’s) break stones, and there are few clues to help us understand the cause and effects of SWL-induced renal injury. We pose four questions that are critical to understanding the adverse effects of lithotripsy. These questions define the focus of this Program Project.

  • How do lithotripter shock waves break kidney stones?
  • How do shock waves cause renal injury?
  • What are the long-term consequences of shock wave injury to the kidney?
  • What factors (renal and extra renal) place patients at increased risk of injury?

We have created a coordinated, highly interactive, multidisciplinary, and collaborative approach to investigate the mechanisms of stone comminution and the biology of renal injury in SWL. The main goal of this research is to determine the physical mechanisms of stone comminution and the cause and consequences of SW-induced renal injury. So that strategies can be devised to minimize or eliminate adverse effects while improving the efficacy of SWL.

By the way; to avoid getting Kidney Stones, drink plenty of filtered water daily. Never from Hot Water Tap!

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