Pulsed Shortwave Therapy & Physiotherapy


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PSWT (Pulsed Shortwave Therapy) is a method of treatment that utilises electric and magnetic fields to achieve therapeutic endpoints.

How does Pulsed Shortwave Therapy work?

PSWT involves a device that delivers an electric and magnetic field in short pulses with a time gap in between. Most of the published literature supports the therapeutic effects of the magnetic field. The evidence supports an effect similar to that achieved by Ultrasound therapy, namely an increase in activity at the cell membrane which results in an excitatory or up regulated state in which materials are transported at a high rate across the membrane in and out of the cell.

Essentially a cell’s contents determine its health, and the normal flow of ions etc is determined by a difference in voltage called the potential difference. During inflammation or other trauma, this potential is disturbed and flow is disrupted, damaging the cell and limiting the extent of tissue repair possible.

The literature supports the claim that PSWT has a positive effect in restoring normal values and hence improving cell functionality by facilitating the transport of ions in a normal fashion across the membrane. It is thought that the process is selective that only damaged cells respond to the low levels of energy involved in the treatment.

The use of Pulsed Shortwave in physiotherapy

Each electrotherapeutic modality has its own pros and cons and specific use in different cases. While Ultrasound therapies are effective in treating denser tissues with high concentrations of collagen, e.g. ligaments and tendons, Pulsed Shortwave is more useful, because of its mode of action, in cells where ionic concentrations are vital to repair, namely muscle and nerve cells.

The effects noted include an increase in the number of healing structures like white blood cells and fibroblasts around damaged cells, and a distinct reduction in inflammation. Physios will use Pulsed Shortwave to treat muscle damage, and particularly to reduce inflammation and promote the repair of strains and similar muscular issues. Pulsed Shortwave can also be used to treat fractures and nerve damage.

Contraindications for the use of Pulsed Shortwave treatment

The electrical and magnetic field used in this treatment renders it completely unsuitable for people with pacemakers and other implants, as well as pregnant women because of the potential side effects on the foetus. Malignant tissues can experience an increase in proliferation under this therapy which renders it unsuitable for cancer patients.


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