shockwave for dogs and cats

Shockwave Therapy for Dogs and Cats

What is shockwave therapy?

Shockwave therapy utilises sound waves to treat dogs with pain and lameness. It is non-invasive and could be considered in simple terms as a way of kickstarting the natural repair and healing mechanisms of the body that usually, due to the longterm nature of a condition, have stalled. High energy sound waves are pulsed through the superficial tissues , targetting the required deeper tissues. Different settings and different sized applicator heads can be customised to treat the appropriate tissues. Shockwave may assist in reducing or eliminating the need for conventional anti- inflammatories. 

Difference in Radial and Focussed shockwave

There are two types of Shockwave units: Focussed and Radial.

Focused shockwave for musculoskeletal issues has been around for the longest of the two types and also has the most studies showing benefits. It was originally used in human medicine to assist in breaking up bladder and gall bladder stones. It requires electromagnetic technolology to generate the therapeutic soundwave. Focussed shockwave is able to penetrate deeper than radial shockwave and  usually requires fewer treatments to achieve the same benefit. The downside is focussed shockwave is more painful and an anaesthetic is necessary for treatment.


Radial shockwave utilises pneumatic technology where a projectile is accelerated in its guide tube by high-pressure pneumatic technology. The projectile hits the transmitter at the end of the applicator and emits the shockwave. Radial shockwave does not achieve as deep penetration as focussed shockwave. It can be used without the need for anaesthetic but the downside is it requires more treatments than focussed shockwave. Despite these shortcomings it is still viewed as a helpful therapy for musculoskeletal conditions.


How does it work?

Shockwave therapy takes advantage of the body’s natural regeneration process.  When the body is injurred there would normally be a process of inflammation, regeneration of tissue and then strengthening of tissue. Sometimes this process stalls and the regeneration of tissue stage stops mid process. Shockwave can help to "kickstart" the process. It encourages the formation of new blood vessels which in turn increases blood supply and then can restart the regeneration of tissue. This can occur in bones, tendons and joints. 

Balance Vet uses a radial shockwave therapy. This means therapy can be performed in the consultation room without anaesthetic. Treatment times are 5-10 minutes on each affected tissue.


Shockwave Therapy should be considered in the following conditions. (click on condition for more information).

Hip Dysplasia                         Elbow Dysplasia


Medial Shoulder Instability          Osteoarthritis                        Pain                                 


Cervical Vertebral Instability        Shoulder OCD                       Tendinopathy


Sesamoiditis                                    Lumbosacral Disease

Some of the studies examining the benefits of shockwave therapy are outlined below:

Mechano-transduction effect of shockwaves in the treatment of lumbar facet joint pain: Comparative effectiveness evaluation of shockwave therapy, steroid injections and radiofrequency medial branch neurotomy Tomas Nedelka et al

Studies: Effect of Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy Versus Intra-articular Injections of Hyaluronic Acid for the Treatment of Knee Osteoarthritis June-Kyung Lee et al

Radial shock wave therapy in dogs with hip osteoarthritis Alexandre N. A. Souza

Complementary use of extracorporeal shock wave therapy on elbow osteoarthritis in dogs Millis et al

Evidence for minimally invasive therapies in the management of chronic calcific tendinopathy of the rotator cuff: a systematic review and meta-analysis K.G.Louwerens MD et al

Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy for Shoulder Lameness in Dogs Willem Becker et al

Extracorporeal shockwave therapy and therapeutic exercise for supraspinatus and biceps tendinopathies in 29 dogs. J. Leeman et al

Application and efficacy of extracorporeal shockwave treatment for knee osteoarthritis: A systematic review and meta‑analysis​ Tengqi Li et al

Efficacy and safety of extracorporeal shock wave therapy for orthopedic conditions: a systematic review on studies listed in the PEDro database Schmitz et al

High energy focused shock wave therapy accelerates bone healing. A blinded, prospective, randomized canine clinical trial . N. R. Kieves et al

Extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT) – First choice treatment of fracture non-unions? WolfgangSchaden et al

Efficacy and safety of extracorporeal shock wave therapy for orthopedic conditions: a systematic review on studies listed in the PEDro database Schmitz et al