Extracorporeal Schockwave Therapy 

Extracorporeal shockwave therapy uses the application of pulsed mechanical waves to the tissues via a hand held trode to aid in healing for a variety of conditions.  It is a non-invasive treatment for many types of pain and injury in our patients. Within the head of the hand piece an acoustic wave is created (in our case using peizoelectric crystals) and that waves passes through the tissues.  As the waves pass from tissues of different densities, like joint fluid to cartilage or cartilage to bone, energy is dissipated into the surrounding region and induces cellular and tissue responses including growth factor release (substances that promote healing and tissue recovery), muscle relaxation, changes in blood flow and tissue metabolism, as well as other biochemical and biomechanical responses.  We have used our machine in a wide variety of cases including patients with arthritis, ligament and tendon injuries, joint laxity/instability, back pain, muscle tension and spasm, and wound management.  The treatment is well tolerated and has offered extensive relief to patients with challenging pain conditions. 

Additional Resources:

Musculoskeletal Therapies For Animals- this is the machine we use specifically at Red Sage and tends to be very quiet and comfortable for use, thus not requiring sedation. There is also a video of a treatment you can watch. 

Shockwave Therapy for Dogs with Arthritis- This is an article from the Whole Dog Journal about a pet owner's experience with shockwave therapy and offers a nice summary. 

Effects of radial shockwave therapy on the limb function of dogs with hip osteoarthritis- this is an abstract of a scientific article on treating dogs with hip arthritis. 

Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy for Shoulder Lameness in Dogs - This is a scientific articles on using shockwave for multiple types of shoulder issues in dogs. 

What is a treatment like? Does it hurt?  How does it work?

With this newer shockwave technology we do not require sedation for a treatment.  Our patients typically enjoy a small frozen snack while the area is being treated and the treatments last about 10-20 minutes, depending on the number of sites being treated.  We do look for some response from the patient, but the treatment should overall be comfortable. Rarely there may be some mild soreness for 1-2 days after a treatment, but much more frequently we see improved comfort in the days following treatment.  Most patients continue normal activity immediately after treatment.  


Ultimately, we are looking for a regenerative response to shockwave- an actual improvement in the health of the tissues being treated.  For that regenerative response, we often expect a patient to take several weeks to several months to see the full benefit of treatment.  


One of the reasons shockwave is such a preferred treatment in our practice, is the continued long-term benefit of this therapy.  Because we are helping tissues to remodel and heal themselves, many patients experience months to years of improved comfort and function. 


Shockwave therapy sessions at Red Sage are usually performed 1-3 weeks apart to encourage tissue remodeling to begin right away.  Depending on the underlying condition, our team may recommend anywhere from 1-7 sessions, though 2-3 session is what most patients start with when doing a trial of shockwave therapy.  

Dr. Fry and Teri using Shockwave to treat Ariel at the WOLF Sanctuary to help manage her severe hip arthritis and pain. 

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