Evaluation of extracorporeal shockwave for treatment of horses with thoracolumbar pain

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Virginia Tech

The objective of this study was to evaluate effects of extracorporeal shockwave therapy (ESWT) on spinal mechanical nociceptive threshold (MNT) and multifidus muscle cross-sectional area (CSA) in horses with thoracolumbar pain. We hypothesized that ESWT would increase MNT and multifidus CSA. Twelve horses with thoracolumbar pain were included. Prior to treatment, each thoracolumbar spine was radiographed to document existing pathology. Horses received 3 ESWT treatments, 2 weeks apart (days 0, 14, 28). Palpation scores were documented (days 0, 45, 65) and ultrasonographic CSA of left and right multifidus was recorded at T12, T14, T16, T18, L3 and L5 (days 0, 45, 65). MNT was measured at T12, T14, T16, T18, L3 and L5 every 7 days (day 0-56). Change in MNT in 10/12 horses was significant at each timepoint compared to day 0 (P<0.05). MNT increased at all timepoints at 6 sites in 2/12, at 5 sites in 3/12, at 4 sites in 4/12 and at 1 site in 1/12 (P<0.05). MNT average percent increase from day 0-56 was 64% for T12-T18 and 29% for L3-L5. There was no statistical difference in MNT from day 35-56 (P=0.25). A bimodal analgesic trend was observed following ESWT. Degree of radiographic change was not associated with response to treatment and no significant change in multifidus CSA was observed. In conclusion, 3 treatments of ESWT 2 weeks apart raised MNT over a 56-day period in horses with back pain, but did not influence change in CSA of the multifidus.

Horses, back pain, extracorporeal shockwave therapy, multifidus, mechanical nociceptive threshold