Diathermy is a physiotherapy technique for injury rehabilitation and pain relief. It works by applying a high-frequency current that increases the temperature in the tissue of the injured area and accelerates the body's healing processes.
This technique, also known as tecar therapy, generates an electrical transfer that can go up to 6 centimeters deep in the tissue. A] Yes, diathermy avoids having to go to more aggressive procedures.
Diathermy helps improve blood flow, helps cell regeneration, increases oxygenation, relieves pain and improves the quality of muscle tissue. All together helps recovery to be more complete and faster.
Types of diathermy
There are 3 basic types of diathermy; that is, techniques to relieve pain and improve injuries through the application of high-frequency currents. They are as follows.
Short wave diathermy
The short-wave type of diathermy uses high-frequency electromagnetic energy to generate heat. It is applied with continuous or pulsed energy waves.
It is used as an adjunct to conditions that cause muscle spasms and pain such as sprains, tenosynovitis, strains, and bursitis. It has also been used to relieve pain from pelvic inflammatory disease and kidney stones.
In this mode, microwaves are used to produce heat in the body. It has the characteristic that it allows deep tissues to be heated evenly without raising the temperature of the skin. It is indicated for use in areas that are close to the skin, such as the shoulders.
In this case, sound waves are used on deep tissues. The heat is produced due to the vibration of the fabric. This, in turn, allows more blood flow to the area. It is used for muscle contractures, strains, spasms, musculoskeletal sprains, joint adhesions, and neuromas.
Benefits of diathermy
Diathermy would offer benefits to alleviate the symptoms of some diseases and injuries. This technique is used in pathologies such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, tendonitis, myositis and in injuries such as sprains, strains and muscle spasms, among others.
It must be clarified that there are still not enough studies available to support the efficacy of this technique which is applied through two methods: the capacitive function and the resistive function. Let's see.
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In this case, heat is generated inside the body thanks to the tissues acting as condensers. This modality focuses on tissues that have more water, such as serous bags, muscles, etc. Produces a firming effect, activates circulation and favors the elimination of toxins.
In this case the heating is produced by the passage of current. It is used on hard tissues such as bones, ligaments and tendons. The main benefits it offers are pain relief and increased speed with which tissues regenerate.
Diathermy applied in physiotherapy
Diathermy is a pleasant and non-invasive therapy, for which it is better tolerated than other methods. It is generally used in combination with other therapies and usually offers almost immediate results.
In this technique, two electrodes are used: one capacitive and the other resistive. exist three types of application of this technique depending on the intensity with which you work. They are as follows.
Athermic or low intensity
Stimulates microcirculation, increases oxygen consumption and promotes biostimulation. It also activates cellular nutrition and increases circulation in the extracellular matrix. It is used for acute injuries, episodes of pain, edema, lymphatic insufficiencies and in the postoperative period.
Term or medium intensity
This type of diathermy also stimulates microcirculation, tissue oxygenation, and drainage. It causes vasodilatory effects and helps to irrigate areas with low blood supply. It is used to improve muscle tone in cases of circulatory deficit. It also applies to cases of muscle strain and to relieve contractures.
Hyperthermic or high intensity
Serves to activate metabolism and stimulate circulation. It promotes endogenous recovery mechanisms and facilitates drainage. It is used in the case of tendinopathies, muscular or capsular fibrosis, joint stiffness and chronic processes.
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Risks and contraindications of diathermy
Diathermy is a good alternative to traditional manual therapy, but, like most procedures, it also has risks and contraindications. In the first place, during these types of techniques the body becomes part of the electric field. Therefore, Touching a metal object can cause shocks or burns.
For the same reason, it is also not recommended for people with pacemakers or those with implants or metal devices such as dental fillings, intrauterine devices, or metal sutures. Likewise, it is contraindicated in the following cases:
When there are open wounds.
People with thermal sensitivity problems.
Peripheral artery disease
People who take anticoagulants or have tumor or infectious processes.
Children weighing less than 15 kilograms.
Application of diathermy under medical supervision
It is not advisable to apply diathermy to a pregnant woman. It is also not recommended if there are fractured or broken bones or if the person has severe liver or kidney conditions. It is important to inform the doctor about any health condition that may make the application of this therapy inconvenient.
There are certain areas of the body where diathermy is not considered a safe procedure. They include the eyes, ears, brain, spinal cord, heart, reproductive organs, and genitalia.