Track side ESW therapy
Though the highly portable extracorporeal shock wave therapy units have a lot of utility outside the clinic, the technology should remain in the hands of those who know what they are doing: a trained veterinarian.
"From the standpoint of blockage of various areas, in relation to that analgesic effect, veterinarians would know what other potential risks there are, and not treating a horse too soon prior to a race, and being familiar with any complications," says Duane Rodgerson, DVM, Hagyard-Davidson-McGee in Lexington, Ky. "There are a number of states that are limiting the use of ESWT to so many days or weeks prior to an event."
Racetrack officials in Illinois regulate ESWT, largely because animals that undergo the treatment require about a week of rest, " says Keith Merritt, DVM, Wauconda, Ill."I think it is a great tool to be used at the racetrack. There are some horses that are immediately better from ESWT, and that's why some people think of the analgesic property of it," Merritt says. "Those horses that are immediately better post ESWT, are only sound for about 48 hours. I think McClure (et al) has proven that in some of his studies. If you give it from 72-96 hours out, from when they've used the ESWT at the racetrack, then it is probably OK. The one thing I do that ensures (that horses don't run too soon after treatment), is that I block the horse with carbocaine or marcaine, that puts the 'caine' in its system, and you are assured they are going to keep them out of the 'box' for seven to 10 days, because it would be picked up on a pre-race test. That would keep trainers from racing horses that should not be run."
Dr. Ron Jensen, DVM, medical director for the California Horse Racing Board (CAHRB), notes that at racetracks and training facilities under jurisdiction of the CAHRB, shock wave therapy is regulated and that all shock wave machines must be registered with the official racetrack veterinarian. Their use is regulated solely by licensed veterinarians, with notification to the racing official racetrack veterinarian, and ESWT treated horses must not race for 10 days post treatment, due to the potential analgesia that occurs after treatment.
Similarly in New York, according to Ted Hill, DVM, chief veterinarian and Jockey Club Steward NYRA, use of shock wave treatment on horses must be reported to the official racetrack veterinarian and horses must not race within 10 days of ESWT treatment.
"Any horse needing shock wave therapy doesn't need to be competing in most cases," McClure says.