What is Shortwave Diathermy? Why is it used?

Shortwave diathermy (KDD) or more commonly “shortwave” is one of the physical therapy tools. Diathermy is the general name of physical therapy methods that aim to achieve beneficial effects in various muscle, joint and other soft tissue problems by heating deep body tissues.

Heating treatments are used for effects such as increasing blood flow in tissues, increasing flexibility and reducing pain. There are three main types of diathermy: shortwave, microwave, and ultrasound. Among these, ultrasound therapy is the most commonly preferred. While ultrasound is generally used for the physical therapy of specific problems affecting a small area, shortwave diathermy can be used for problems affecting larger body areas.

Shortwave Diathermy

It generates heat with high frequency electromagnetic energy. Currents with a frequency of 27.12 Mhz and a wavelength of 11.06 meters or a frequency of 22 Mhz and a wavelength of 7.5 meters are used. It can be applied as a pulse (intermittent) or continuous energy pulse. The continuous flow of energy provides more heating. In pulse mode, mechanical effects can be seen independently of the heater effect. Effects such as acceleration of cell growth, acceleration of wound healing and repair of damaged cells are not heat dependent and can be obtained with pulse current.

KDD therapy can be preferred for the physical treatment of ailments such as muscle spasms, strains, bursitis, tenosynovitis, arthritis, low back pain, fibromyalgia.

With KDD, heating of tissues up to 5 cm deep under the skin can be achieved. The device does not directly heat, the current produced by the device ensures the heating of the target tissues. It is accepted that the heating occurs by ionic motion, dipole rotation and molecular distortion mechanisms. Tissues with high water content, such as skin and muscle, are heated more. Fat and bone are heated less by KDD.

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Tissue warming causes an increase in blood circulation and elasticity, helping to relieve stiffness, especially in joint calcification (osteoarthritis). Reducing pain and stiffness allows the person to do physical therapy exercises more comfortably. Strengthening and stretching the muscles with exercise helps to make the effect of physical therapy more permanent.

Shortwave diathermy is almost never a method that is expected to act alone. It is applied in combination with other physical therapy methods such as TENS, hot packs, exercises and massage.

Things to pay attention

Electromagnetic energy used in short wave diathermy may cause overheating in metal parts such as plaque, screw, metal suture or dental implant, spiral used in orthopedic surgeries. Overheating may cause burns to surrounding tissues. Therefore, it is not applied to metal body parts.

Since the pace maker may be affected by KDD energy, it is not applied to those with a pacemaker.

If there is cancer, decreased skin sensation, peripheral vascular disease, conditions with impaired tissue circulation, bleeding disorders, pregnancy, and infection, KDD may be inconvenient.

If the KDD session is to be performed, the person should remove the metal jewelry, clothes with metal buttons or zippers.

For KDD application, the stretcher on which the patient lies should not contain metal parts.

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