Objective: To evaluate the effects of shock wave treatment on cutaneous nerve function, compared with the effects of local nerve block and sedation.
Animals: 18 clinically sound Swiss Warmbloods.
Procedure: Horses were randomly allocated to 3 groups and received different amounts and types of shock waves (extracorporeal shock wave treatment [ESWT] or radial pressure wave treatment [RPWT]). Horses were sedated with xylazine and levomethadone. Shock waves were applied to the lateral palmar digital nerve at the level of the proximal sesamoid bones on 1 forelimb. Skin sensitivity was evaluated by means of an electrical stimulus at the coronary band before and 5 minutes after sedation and at 4, 24, and 48 hours after application of ESWT or RPWT. On the contralateral forelimb, skin sensitivity was tested before and 10 minutes after an abaxial sesamoid nerve block.
Results: No significant changes in skin sensitivity were detected, regardless of the shock wave protocol applied. Mean reaction thresholds after sedation were more than twice the baseline thresholds. After the abaxial sesamoid block, no reaction was recorded in any of the horses.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance: Application of ESWT or RPWT to the palmar digital nerve had no effect on cutaneous sensation distal to the treated region for at least 2 days after application. The analgesic effect of sedation on reaction to electrical stimuli was distinct but varied among horses.