Shortwave Diathermy (swd)


What Is Shortwave Diathermy (SWD)?

Shortwave diathermy is a therapeutic modality that uses high-frequency alternating currents to generate heat in the body's tissues. It is commonly used to produce deep heating in joints and soft tissues.

How Does Shortwave Diathermy (SWD) Work?

High-frequency electromagnetic energy of the shortwave therapy passes through the patient's body and is absorbed by the body tissues. Since body tissue contains ions, the electromagnetic energy causes the ions to move in various directions, creating friction between the moving ions and surrounding tissues. This decreases joint pain and enhances soft tissue healing.

What Are The Parameters Of Shortwave Diathermy (SWD) Work?

Diathermy is a part of a complete physiotherapy regimen. The frequency and length of the treatments vary.

Frequency: Shortwave diathermy uses a frequency ranging from 3 to 30MHz Usually a frequency of 27.12 MHz and a wavelength of 11 meters is used. Currents of such high frequencies do not stimulate sensory or motor nerves nor do they produce any muscle contraction. Shortwave diathermy can either be
  • Continuous shortwave diathermy (CSWD).
  • Pulsed shortwave diathermy (PSWD).
Continuous short-wave diathermy: has a thermal effect more than pulsed, so it is generally used for its thermal effects whereas pulsed short-wave diathermy has athermal effects. Shortwave diathermy uses high-frequency electromagnetic energy to generate heat, in pulsed or continuous energy waves.

Electrodes: The current is applied to the patient by a heavy, flexible, insulated cable which is used as the electrode and is coiled about or around the patient’s part to be treated.
There are two methods of application of electrode pads,
  • Contra planar.
  • Coplanar.
Contra planar electrode placement: The two electrodes are placed in two different planes, therefore it is called contra planar. the two pads sandwich the treating body part between them.

Coplanar electrode placement: In contra planar arrangement, the pads are placed side by side on the same plane. This is used to treat large body parts such as the upper back. lower back. The electrodes should not be placed too close as the wave path does not go deeper.

Physiological Effects Of Shortwave Diathermy (SWD).

Short Wave Diathermy uses two condenser plates that are positioned on either side of the body part to be treated. Another form of application is by using induction coils that can be molded to fit the part of the body under treatment. As the electromagnetic waves travel through the body tissues between the condensers or the coils, they convert them into heat. Heat and depth of penetration depend on the resistance and absorption properties of the tissues that the waves encounter.
Heat increases the diameter of the blood vessels, thus increasing blood circulation and removing waste products. Also increases the nutrient supply in the affected area and gives relief from pain and also reduces muscle spasm, helps to relax tight muscles, and improve the range of motion.

What Are The Benefits Of Shortwave Diathermy (SWD)?

Shortwave diathermy (SWD) can be used in conjunction with other physiotherapy modalities to enhance their effectiveness. The known benefits of SWD include:
  • Reduces pain and inflammation,
  • Improves range of motion,
  • Promote healing in the affected area.
  • Reduces muscle spasms and stiffness.

What Conditions Are Treated By Shortwave Diathermy (SWD)?

Shortwave diathermy can be used to control pain and edema. Shortwave diathermy (SWD) is commonly used to treat a variety of musculoskeletal conditions, including:

What Are The Contraindications Of Shortwave Diathermy (SWD)?

To apply Shortwave diathermy treatment safely, physiotherapists must know the contraindications for the use of such equipment. There are some contraindications of SWD, a few of them are mentioned below:
  • Certain skin conditions,
  • Pregnancy,
  • Patients who are taking blood-thinning medications,
  • Cancer,
  • Severe/excessive edema,
  • Metallic implant,
  • Cardiac pacemaker,
  • Over wet dressing,
  • Acute inflammation,
  • Infected open wound,
  • Impaired thermal sensation,
  • Recent radiotherapy,
  • Pregnancy,
  • Severe cardiac abnormality,
  • Blood pressure abnormality,
  • Anesthetic area,
  • Tuberculosis,
  • Reproductive organ.

What Are The Side Effects Of Shortwave Diathermy (SWD)?

Shortwave diathermy (SWD) therapy is a safe and effective treatment option for musculoskeletal conditions. But there are some risks associated with the use of SWD therapy, like SWD therapy generates heat, which can cause burns if the treatment is not properly rendered or if the patient has certain skin conditions, and prolonged or excessive heat exposure from SWD therapy can cause tissue damage, usually, in patients with certain medical conditions and certain medications, some patients may experience an allergic reaction to the materials used in the SWD treatment, like gel or pads. SWD therapy generates electromagnetic waves, which can interfere with certain medical devices such as pacemakers, and also should not be used in patients with certain types of cancer, as the heat generated by SWD can exacerbate these conditions.

Precautions Of Shortwave Diathermy (SWD).

Once the machine is switched on, the physiotherapist should keep at least 1 meter from the machine, leads, and electrodes. For safety purposes:
  • Ensure the earthing of the machine.
  • The machine and the electrodes should be properly connected.
  • Patients should not be allowed to touch the unit.
  • Check contraindications.
  • The patient should be properly positioned.
  • Do not place it over the wet area.
  • Check the thermal sensitivity.
  • Remove metal if wearing.
  • Skin surfaces should be separated by a towel.
  • Wait for 2-3 minutes after setting.

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