Diathermy, what is it and what are its benefits?

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Diathermy in the physiotherapy sector

Perhaps you have heard on some occasion about the treatment of Indiba or diathermy, either in the field of physiotherapy or in the world of aesthetics.

Many of the advantages of this treatment have been discussed, but not about what this treatment consists of and how it is applied.

What is Diathermy?

The diathermy methodology consists of a non-invasive treatment, which bases its functionality on raising the temperature of the organs or tissues of the body through radiofrequency electrical currents.

The application mechanism is divided into two biophysical phenomena: 

  • Electrical phenomena.
  • Thermal phenomena.

The effect produced by diathermy depends on the temperature it reaches and the time we maintain the temperature in the work area. The thermal increase produces an analgesic, anti-edematous and anti-inflammatory effect, and produces an acceleration in tissue regeneration where a proliferative effect appears.

Diathermy treatment is a technique through which a high-frequency current is applied that penetrates the deepest layers, producing a thermal and biological effect at the cellular level, producing an acceleration of cell metabolism, relieving inflammation more quickly than with other conventional techniques.

The effects produced by the different reactions in the tissue will depend on the temperature that we apply, but we can find:

Biostimulation: It is used in acute phases or inflammatory processes and the drainage of the treated area is increased, but there is no increase in temperature.

Hyperactivation: This technique increases blood flow and drainage causing dilation of blood vessels and improves tissue tension. This technique is characterized by having a very high power where there is a maximum thermal effect.

Vascularization: It is used in healing processes and in subacute phases. In this technique there is a slight increase in temperature, there is an increase in drainage and improved oxygenation.

Uses of Diathermy

Diathermy is known for being used in different fields, such as physiotherapy or in the aesthetic sector.

Diathermy, what is it and what are its benefits

Diathermy in the aesthetic sector

Within the aesthetics sector, it is performed both as a body and facial treatment. Regarding the facial level and in the neck and décolleté area, diathermy reduces wrinkles and scars, improves skin elasticity and enhances its regeneration; it also gives greater firmness to the tissues, and helps to reshape the contour and improve facial expression.

It has been verified with different types of studies that the cells that form the adipose tissue reduce activity and, therefore, their deposits.

It can also be applied as a healing method after surgery, as it speeds up the healing process, and reduces inflammation and bruising.

Diathermy also promotes lymphatic drainage and relaxation, which is why it is applied to problems related to circulation in the legs and fluid retention.

Diathermy in the physiotherapy sector

In the physiotherapy sector, it produces an acceleration of cell metabolism, relieving inflammation more quickly than conventional techniques. It is applied to muscles that are flaccid, since through this technique it is possible to maintain the elasticity and function of soft tissues, giving greater firmness to the skin.

What is Diathermy

Types of Diathermy

Diathermy is composed of two types of electrodes:

  • Capacitive: It is used for soft and osteoarticular tissue, it acts superficially and in the local area. The reaction occurs where the electrode is, and there is additional heating by the polyamide, which is the type of material that covers the electrode. This headstock decreases the internal resistance values of the fabric due to this layer of polyamide.
  • Resistive: It is used for fibrotic tissue and poor vascularization, acting superficially and deeply. The reaction occurs in the place where there is greater resistance between the resistive electrode and the return plate (a plate that is placed in contact with the surface of the skin), on those tissues with more resistance, such as bones or tendons, since that its density is higher, and causes a higher temperature increase compared to other areas with soft structures or with more vascularization.

What is Diathermy used for?

We have already mentioned the different uses that diathermy has, both aesthetically and in the field of physiotherapy. Now we are going to discuss its usefulness in different areas.

Within the rehabilitation processes it is used as a treatment for musculoskeletal pathologies in its different phases, from acute, subacute and chronic.

In the field of sports physiotherapy, diathermy is known as helping athletes to recover more quickly and effectively.

To treat the pelvic floor, which usually suffers a lot after pregnancy, childbirth or even due to the passage of age. There are different dysfunctions and pathologies that can affect both men and women; but by combining manual therapy work and active exercise with diathermy, it is possible to reduce pain, increase vascularity and relax the muscles more easily.

Diathermy Treatment

We have to take into account that to carry out a diathermy treatment, two electrodes will be needed as we have previously commented: the capacitive and the resistive.

With this treatment we can perform two types of treatment: one local and one global.

In the two types of treatments, the two types of electrodes, capacitive and resistive, will be used to reach all levels of the injured tissue (for superficial, deep tissue, hard and soft tissue). From here, a treatment will be carried out in three phases:

  • Preparation: It is a surface treatment. The capacitive electrode is used and soft structures are addressed.
  • Main: The resistive electrode is used and the structures related to the pathology are treated in depth.
  • Treatment rest: The capacitive electrode is reapplied to drain and decongest the treated tissue.

When we carry out a treatment we always end up thinking about the correct moment to give the treatment, we consider whether the application of diathermy is carried out before, during or after applying the rest of the therapeutic alternatives or other aesthetic treatments. When we apply manual techniques, we can integrate diathermy into the entirety of your treatment.

There are protocols for each type of pathology, which we can apply modifications according to the type of patient, pathology and symptomatology.

This type of treatment can be combined with other technologies to multiply its benefits, such as electrostimulation. This technology bases its operation on a way of exercising muscles using local electrical impulses, in which they use electrical current impulses to heal injuries, improve sports performance. For this reason, this system is increasingly recommended in the field of physiotherapy, sports training or in the field of aesthetics.

The Wiemspro and Onnafit system has designed its products so that they can cover these 3 areas of use.

Pathologies treated by Diathermy

We are going to discuss the different pathologies that diathermy can treat and how the treatment should be given or performed.

For patients suffering from osteoarthritis:

  • Within the acute phase: the main objective is focused on reducing pain and inflammation. The capacitive electrode will be applied with a medium thermal sensation and the resistive one giving mobility to the joint, pulling and discounting with a low thermal sensation.
  • When osteoarthritis reaches its normalization phase: the goal is to improve mobility and reduce pain. The phase of the restrictive electrode will be longer and with a higher thermal sensation.

For patients who have tendinopathies:

  • In an acute phase or in a healing process, we aim to reduce pain, inflammation and improve trophism. The capacitive electrode will be applied first and then the resistive one with a medium thermal sensation and it will end with the capacitive one in a low thermal sensation.
  • In a normalization phase, an attempt will be made to achieve maximum tendon functionality by applying both electrodes with a high thermal sensation.

For ligament injuries:

  • When these lesions are in an acute and inflammatory phase, we will only apply the capacitive electrode with minimal thermal sensation to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • In a healing phase, the objective will be to improve tissue trophism and improve mobility. You can start by applying the capacitive and resistive electrode with a medium thermal sensation and finish with the resistive electrode at a low intensity.
  • In a normalization phase, the electrode can be applied with a high thermal sensation.

For patients suffering from muscular contractures:

  • In an acute phase, the goal is to decrease pain and relax muscle tone. We will apply both electrodes with a soft thermal sensation applying massage therapy to the affected area.
  • In a normalization phase, we will try to improve the trophism and the disappearance of the contracture. Both electrodes will also be applied with a higher thermal sensation.
  • Specific techniques for trigger points can be applied with the resistive electrode.

In patients suffering from fibrillar ruptures:

  • In an inflammatory phase we will only apply the capacitive electrode with a minimal thermal sensation to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • In a healing phase, the goal will be to improve tissue trophism and tissue healing. you can start by applying the capacitive and resistive electrode with a medium thermal sensation and finish with the resistive electrode at low frequency,
  • In a normalization phase, the electrode with a high thermal sensation can be applied and end with the capacitive electrode with a low thermal sensation.

Benefits of Diathermy

There are many benefits that diathermy can offer us:

  • Firms and repairs the tissue. Precisely because it stimulates collagen and generates new fibers, diathermy is a treatment that firms the skin and repairs the tissue thanks to the new cellular metabolism.
  • Draining effect. Diathermy favors lymphatic drainage and fibroblast migration, as well as the rapid reduction of edema (liquid retention). Improves circulation and leg pain.
  • Favors the absorption of active ingredients: the fact of having younger and more active skin will once again facilitate the absorption of the active ingredients of cosmetics.
  • Speeds up the healing of contractures. If you are an athlete, you will like to know that one of the benefits of body diathermy is to accelerate the healing of muscular contractures, overloads, injuries and inter and intramuscular bruises.
  • Fight cellulite, By accelerating the metabolism of the fat cell, fatty tissue is reduced, cellulite nodules are combated, as well as flaccidity and other skin imperfections.


As we have commented in the post, this treatment offers many benefits depending on the use that is determined. Of course, both in the physiotherapy sector and in the aesthetic sector, it can bring us many benefits.

Frequently asked questions about diathermy

What is the difference between radiofrequency and diathermy?

Radiofrequency and diathermy are two techniques used in the medical and aesthetic fields to treat various conditions and improve tissue health. Although both involve the application of electromagnetic energy to the body, they have significant differences in how they work and what they are used for. Here I present a brief description of each one and their differences:

Radio frequency:

  • Radiofrequency is a technique that uses high-frequency electromagnetic waves to generate heat in the underlying tissues of the skin.
  • It is commonly used in aesthetic procedures for skin rejuvenation, wrinkle reduction, skin tightening, and fat removal.
  • Radiofrequency heats the collagen in the dermis, which stimulates the production of new collagen and elastin, which in turn can improve the firmness and appearance of the skin.
  • It is also used in physical therapy for pain relief and recovery from muscle and joint injuries.


  • Diathermy is a technique that uses high-frequency electromagnetic waves to heat deep tissues in the body, including muscles and joints.
  • It is used in physical medicine and rehabilitation to treat musculoskeletal injuries, such as sprains, muscle strains, and contractures.
  • Diathermy is commonly used in physical therapy to relieve pain, improve blood circulation, and promote muscle relaxation.
  • It can also be used in surgical procedures to cut tissue or clot blood vessels.

How long does diathermy last?

The duration of a diathermy session may vary depending on the purpose of the treatment and the recommendation of the health professional administering it. Typically, a diathermy session can last between 15 and 30 minutes, but in some cases it can be shorter or longer.

The duration of diathermy may depend on several factors, such as the area of the body being treated, the specific medical or musculoskeletal condition being addressed, the intensity of the diathermic energy used, and the individual needs of the patient. Some treatments may require shorter, more frequent sessions, while others may involve longer, less frequent sessions.

How many diathermy sessions are necessary?

The number of diathermy sessions required can vary significantly depending on the medical or musculoskeletal condition being treated, the severity of the condition, and the patient’s individual response to treatment. In general, some patients may experience relief from their symptoms after just a few sessions, while others may require a longer course of treatment.

The healthcare professional administering diathermy, such as a physical therapist or doctor, will determine the number of sessions needed based on careful evaluation of the patient and their progress during treatment. An initial evaluation is often performed to establish a personalized treatment plan that includes the length and frequency of sessions.

In many cases, a treatment program consisting of regular sessions is recommended, which can be done once or several times a week. As the patient progresses and her symptoms improve, the frequency of sessions may be gradually reduced.