Short Wave Diathermy (SWD) is the therapeutic application of the high frequency of the alternating current that produces electromagnetic energy and provides deep heating in joints and soft tissues. High-frequency electromagnetic energy passes through the patient’s body and absorbed by the body tissues. Since body tissue has a voluminous number of ions, this energy causes the ions to move in various directions, creating friction. Thus, it can ease joint pain, enhance soft tissue healing, and reduce the symptoms of osteoarthritis.
Heating effects of the short wave diathermy cause friction between the moving ions and surrounding tissues. The longitudinal coil design of Short Wave Diathermy gradual delivery of an entire area. Only induction SWD heats tissues that are good conductors, such as muscle & blood vessels. Adipose tissue (fat) receives little heating by induction fields because an electrical current is not genuinely going through the tissues.
Physiological Effect of Short Wave Diathermy
Short wave diathermy machines use two condenser plates that are positioned on either side of the body part to be treated. Another form of application is by induction coils that are pliable and can mold to fit the part of the body under treatment. As high-frequency waves travel through the body tissues between the condensers or the coils, they convert them into heat.
Heat and depth of penetration depend in part on the absorptive and resistance properties of the tissues that the waves encounter.
Heat Produce >> Increases Diameter of blood vessels >> Increase Blood circulation >> Remove Waste Products >>Increases Nutrients Supply in the affected area >> Relief Pain/Reduce Muscle Spasm
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Therapeutic Effect of Short Wave Diathermy
We usually prescribe short wave diathermy for treatment of deep muscles and joints that have a heavy soft-tissue mass, for example, the hip. Sometimes, shortwave diathermy may localize deep inflammatory processes, as in pelvic inflammatory disease.
- Back Pain
- Muscle spasm
- Delayed healing
Indication of Short Wave Diathermy
Much like superficial heat, someone can use it in conditions resulting from chronic spinal pain, sprains and strains, and postural dysfunctions. We can use pulsed diathermy much like our non-thermal agents to control pain and edema. Pulsed SWD facilitates wound healing (decubitus ulcers, post-surgical, burn-related injury).
Disorder of the Musculoskeletal System
- Sprain (ligament)
- Strain (Muscle)
- Capsular lesion (Frozen shoulder)
- Degenerative joint disease (OA)
- Joint stiffness.
Chronic Inflammatory Condition
Contraindication of Short Wave Diathermy
Using electrophysical agents is one of the core treatment approaches by physiotherapists. The decision to apply a particular modality is based on the physiological effects of that modality. To apply treatment safely, physiotherapists must also know contraindications towards the use of such equipment. A list encompassing all cited contraindications has the rationale behind their exclusion from treatment discussed.
- Malignant tissue
- Severe / excessive edema
- Metallic implant
- Cardiac pacemaker
- Over wet dressing
- Acute inflammation
- Infected open wound
- Unreliable patient
- Impaired thermal sensation
- Recent radiotherapy
- Severe cardiac abnormality
- Blood pressure abnormality
- Anesthetic area
- Tendency of bleeding
- Reproductive organ
Danger/Precaution of Short Wave Diathermy
In the safety mater, I recommend that once the machine switched on, the physiotherapist and other personnel should keep at least 1 meter from the machine, leads, and electrodes.
- Proper connection of machine and electrodes
- Ensure the earthing of machine
- Do not allow the patient to touch the unit.
- Check contraindication
- Not over cloth
- Not over the wet area
- Check the thermal sensitivity
- Remove metal
- Skin surface separated by a towel
- Ensure even pattern of heat
- Wait for 2-3 minutes after setting
- Proper position of the patient