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What Is Diathermy?

Diathermy is a therapeutic technique that uses high-frequency electric currents to generate deep heat within body tissues.

It is an endogenous thermotherapy that involves the emission of high-frequency electromagnetic signals via an electrode, which generates heat  to soft tissues containing electrolytes, such as muscles, vascular, and lymphatic tissues.

The application of high frequency does not transmit heat from the device to the patient; instead, heat is generated within the tissues themselves (by transformation) when invaded by electromagnetic forces, preferably in deep tissues. Therefore, this technique is also known as deep thermotherapy.

​This heat penetrates deeper than surface treatments, reaching muscles, joints, and other tissues to provide therapeutic benefits.

 

The increased temperature enhances metabolic activity, reduces muscle tension, and improves blood flow, contributing to pain relief and faster healing.

Image by Jan Huber

Some History

In the mid-1800s, research into the therapeutic applications of electricity was greatly stimulated by advances in the knowledge of electromagnetism made by Faraday, Gauss, Ampère, and others.

The effects of electromagnetism have been known since the late 1800s and were first investigated by Jacques-Arsène d'Arsonval and Nikola Tesla.

By radiating tissue with electromagnetic fields, tissue heating arises from molecular oscillation induced by high-frequency currents. This discovery led physicians in the early 20th century to use radio frequency waves for the therapeutic heating of diseased tissue.

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Where is diathermy primarily used?

  • AESTHETICS

Diathermy promotes skin rejuvenation, reduces wrinkles, and enhances overall skin appearance by increasing collagen production and improving blood flow.

  • PHYSICAL THERAPY

It aids in pain relief, improves circulation, and accelerates tissue healing, helping patients recover from injuries and chronic conditions more effectively.

  • SPORTS MEDICINE

Diathermy is used to prevent and treat sports injuries, reduce muscle stiffness, and enhance recovery, enabling athletes to return to their peak performance more quickly.

Diathermy Effects On Tissues

  • Improves metabolism

  • Balances pH

  • Reabsorbs catabolites

  • Enhances cellular function

 

Dr. Alberto Martí Bosch conducted a microscopic observation and found that diathermy treatment improved oxygenation, as indicated by the redder coloration.

The yellow spots observed in the previous sample were identified as metabolic residues.

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Blood Sample at 17:45 h

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Blood Sample at 18:20 h

after 15' of Diathermy

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C-section scar

C-scar 10 sessions

After 10 sessions

Evolution of a C-section scar after 10 diathermy sessions with the R200. In post-surgical rehabilitation, diathermy aids in remodeling and softening scar tissue, supporting better functional recovery and reducing the risk of adhesions and stiffness around surgical sites.

Science-Proven Benefits 

Diathermy offers a range of scientifically supported benefits for human health. Explore some of the key studies that back these claims:
Effects of Capacitive-Resistive Diathermy on Musculoskeletal Pain and Function: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
Effect of diathermy on muscle temperature, electromyography, and mechanomyography
Effects of deep heat therapy on the patients with chronic low back pain
Shortwave diathermy and prolonged stretching increase hamstring flexibility more than prolonged stretching alone
Efficacy of capacitive resistive monopolar radiofrequency in the physiotherapeutic treatment of chronic pelvic pain syndrome: A randomized controlled trial
Analgesic effects of a capacitive-resistive monopolar radiofrequency in patients with myofascial chronic neck pain: a pilot randomized controlled trial
Thermophysiological responses to capacitive resistive monopolar radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee joint: A randomised controlled experimental study

Physiological Effects in Literature

The numerous physiological benefits are detailed in the book "Electroterapia en Fisioterapia" by José María Rodríguez Martín which is studied by physicians and physiotherapists:

01.

Increase in local temperature: Activates the autonomic nervous system

02.

Thermal self-regulation response: Promotes hyperemia and vasodilation

03.

Liquefies and renews interstitial fluid by releasing water

04.

Alkalinizes the biological environment in the area: Helps eliminate metabolic waste.

05.

Provides pain relief for biochemical pain (also indirectly for mechanical and neuralgic pain).

06.

Increases overall body temperature (after some time post-session).

07.

Promotes muscle relaxation: through sensitive reflex action, by alleviating pain, by removing metabolic waste, by boosting energy supply.

08.

Enhances the movement of defense elements to the affected area

09.

Liquefies gel-like substances and dense edema.

10.

Reduces localized edema through the lymphatic and circulatory systems.

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