Advantages of Short wave diathermy | Disadvantages of Short wave diathermy

This page covers advantages and disadvantages of Short wave diathermy and its basics. It mentions benefits or advantages of Short wave diathermy and drawbacks or disadvantages of Short wave diathermy.

What is Short wave diathermy?

Diathermy term refers to therapeutic treatment for muscular and joint pains. Diathermy means "through heating" or producing heat to treat tissues of the body. It simulates blood circulation, relieves pain and enhances rate of recovery of healing the tissues. There are many different methods of diathermy viz. short wave, long wave, microwave, ultrasound and laser.

Short wave diathermy uses EM (ElectroMagnetic) waves at high frequency (approx. 10-100 MHz) to generate heat. It may be applied in pulse mode or continuous mode. It is used for treatment of pain from sinusitis, kidney stones, pelvic infections etc. It heats tissue to the depth of 2 to 3 cm.

Short wave diathermy

Short wave diathermy uses three main frequencies as below.
• 27.12 MHz with wavelength of 11 meters (most commonly used)
• 13.56 MHz with wavelength of 22 meters
• 40.68 MHz with wavelength of 7.5 meters

Short wave diathermy uses either capacitor plates (i.e. pads) or inductive coils with short waves to generate heat. The capacitive method produces electric fields where as inductive method produces magnetic fields.

In capacitor based diathermy, pads or electrodes are placed such that portion of the body to be treated is sandwiched between them. The body tissues to be treated act as dielectric material of the formed capacitor. When short waves are applied, the capacitor produces heat due to dielectric losses in the tissues.

In inductive coil method, portion to be treated is placed in the inductive coil. The current flowing within the coil produces rotating magnetic field which produces eddy currents in the tissues. This eddy currents cause friction which produce heat. Inductive method is most commonly used.

Benefits or advantages of Short wave diathermy

Following are the benefits or advantages of Short wave diathermy:
➨This method does not produce any discomfort to patients compare to other methods such as hot towels, infra-red lamp, electric heating pads etc.
➨It is used to relieve pain and healing of deep seated sports injury.
➨It can heat through joints and can be applied to skin directly. In microwave diathermy, spacing is required between skin and applicator.
➨It penetrates fat layer easily compare to microwave diathermy ( (1/3)rd of short wave diathermy (SWD) ).
➨It does not create hot spots.
➨It does not heat metals as much as microwave diathermy method.

Drawbacks or disadvantages of Short wave diathermy

Following are the drawbacks or disadvantages of Short wave diathermy:
➨There is risk of deep tissue burn. Burns are more common in using capacitance type electrodes as patient becomes part of circuit.
➨Care should be taken for patients with lower BP and gangrene.
➨As over dose increases pain, appropriate dose is a must during treatment.
➨It requires more safety concerns for both patient and clinician. Failing to follow safety guidelines result in inadvertent burning of patient.
➨The devices for short wave diathermy are expensive.

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