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Investigation of the Immediate Analgesic Effects of Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy for Treatment of Navicular Disease in Horses

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To measure the acute analgesic properties of extracorporeal shock wave therapy (ESWT) in horses with navicular disease using objective ground reaction forces (GRF). Study Design

Prospective study. Animals

Nine client-owned horses with unilateral forelimb lameness caused by navicular disease. Methods

Horses were trotted at 3 m/s over a force plate to record pre-treatment GRF of the lame and contra-lateral forelimbs. After ESWT of the lame limb, applied with a radial unit to each of the frog and heel bulb areas with 1500 pulses at 4 bar and 10 Hz, GRF measurements were repeated at 15 minutes and 24-hour intervals for 7 days. From the 5 trials recorded at each time, peak vertical force (PVF) was calculated and averaged. Data were compared between limbs and over time using a 2-way repeated-measures ANOVA. Results

Mean (±SD) PVF was significantly different between lame (day 1; 4339±626 N) and contra-lateral (day 1; 5236±515 N) limbs pre-treatment (P<.05). After ESWT treatment, this difference remained unchanged at 15 minutes and from days 1 to 7. To confirm navicular disease, palmar digital analgesia significantly reduced the lameness (lame 5144±430 N; contralateral 5082±586 N; P>.05). Conclusions

Single ESWT treatment applied in this manner does not influence lameness in horses with navicular disease. Clinical Relevance

Although many equine regulatory commissions currently ban the use of ESWT before competition, our results suggest that such regulations may be unfounded. Further research is required to determine the long-term analgesic properties of this frequently used treatment modality in equine athletes.
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Keywords: analgesia; extracorporeal shock wave therapy; ground reaction forces; horse; kinetics; navicular disease; peak vertical force

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2005

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