Everything that physiotherapists don’t know or pretend not to know.

Tecar therapy is a controversial phenomenon in the world of physiotherapy. It is an electromedical device and a method that is both loved and hated at the same time, but which offers important starting points for reflection on the world of physiotherapy and physiotherapists.
There is just one noteworthy scientific article about tecar therapy.

Although this is true, it has generated great interest among operators from the very start and has also achieved a level of market penetration that is unprecedented in the history of physiotherapy in Italy. We are trying to understand why today, around twenty years later, there is still a lot of talk about tecar therapy and yet no studies have been carried out. The fact that heat therapy produces effects in the biological tissue has been known for millennia.

There are studies into various forms of heat therapy, where the thermal effect and tissue hyperthermia are clearly effective in the treatment of disorders affecting the musculoskeletal system and more.
However, this is not enough to explain the success of tecar therapy in Italy and in other European countries. Misinformed critics should take note that over the last three years this electromedical device has been spreading across Europe and the Middle East, so that it is no longer true to say tecar therapy is only used in Italy and Spain.
The numbers are growing, together with levels of satisfaction among the physiotherapists and doctors who have started to use it in various parts of the world.

Let’s take a closer look at the elements that have led to the spread of tecar therapy.

1 – The importance of “contact” and the meaning of “looking after oneself”

Tecar therapy has enabled us to rediscover the importance of physical contact characteristic of massage. In our collective imagination, physical contact with the operator generates an important psychological aspect that leads to very high compliance, emphasized by the thermal aspect.
This looking after oneself, together with the therapeutic act, generates a set of chemical and emotional elements that are impossible to achieve with other methods. Tecar therapy is certainly the most enjoyable and well-tolerated physiotherapy treatment. If we add the renown of the method and the presumed miraculous effects that are attributed to it, we begin to see the start of a real predisposition for healing and an extraordinary placebo effect that can be added to the biophysical one. You can explore these issues further and read up on all the scientific background behind these statements in Cure and Care Coaching by Giuliano Mari, physiotherapist and care process communication expert.

2 – Engineering research and technical innovation

In Italy, during the early years of tecar therapy, a Spanish company was the first to launch its products on the market and is attributed with having introduced radiofrequency to physiotherapy. In reality, medical treatments that use high-frequency currents have been around since the first half of the twentieth century. D’Arsonval (1851‒1949) carried out a number of experiments and discovered that using a 10KHz electrical current no longer produced muscle contractions, but instead endogenous heat.
Returning to the present time, it should be highlighted that the spread of the method as a result of its efficacy has generated a flourish of manufacturers, which have invested all of their typical Italian ingenuity into producing increasingly safe and effective tecar therapy devices. A few legal disputes created friction between the companies, but today this seems to have been all smoke and no fire. Thanks to the growth of semiconductor technology and materials in general, we have witnessed an evolution in the devices, both in electronic terms and as regards the materials used to construct the electrodes. This has led to an improvement in energy transfers and safety for patients and physiotherapists. Today, the ongoing evolution of FISIOWARM is possible thanks to Golden Star’s research and development department, which works in close contact with the company’s scientific committee and is involved in constant research into technical aspects that can improve the work of every physiotherapist.

3 – Widespread use, experimental and EBP centres

Let’s start by clarifying the terms: “experimentation” does not entail “research”, but is precisely what has taken place and is still taking place in Italy and abroad. The extensive clinical evidence that can be found on the web, which ha led to product innovation over time, is the result of the work of university centres, healthcare terms, federal sports associations and, above all, countless physiotherapists, who have worked alongside manufacturers, putting their experience and passion into improving the products and making the method more effective, experimenting with frequencies, wavelengths and new accessories in the field. This widespread and silent activity, known only to those in the trade, has enabled Italian physiotherapists with a passion for tecar therapy to acquire a unique degree of expertise over the last fifteen years, unparalleled anywhere else in the world. Unfortunately, due to the fault of the companies and the contorted mechanisms that regulate research in Italy, these experiences have never been transformed into scientific research projects worthy of this name. It is a real pity.
The innovation process continues, in a sector that requires greater scientific stringency alongside experience gained in the field.

DISCOVER THE ITALIAN ACADEMY TECARTERAPHY

4 – Marketing and endorsers in the world of sport

Top footballers, sports stars and Olympic champions have endorsed tecar therapy in their turn. Let’s start by saying that if even one tenth of the investments made in marketing had been channelled into research, we would not be writing this today. However, for various reasons, things have not gone in the right direction, despite the effective efficacy of tecar therapy over the years having given the method a central role in the treatment of sports-related injuries, sometimes in combination with other physical means, even generating spontaneous endorsements of tecar therapy by sports stars.
Our company is proud and honoured to work alongside Paralympic athletes.
Our collaboration with the physiotherapists and medical team who look after these extraordinary sportsmen and women provides us with great ideas for the continuing innovation of the Fisiowarm system, as well as a strong emotional involvement that drives us to do better.

5 – It works even if used incorrectly

This has been and will continue to be one of the biggest problems faced by tecar therapy. Even the so-called “ironing” massage can improve symptoms in many cases. At times this has led to incorrect use, to the detriment of the hot massage image.
All too often the patient has ended up on the couch without a proper diagnosis, hoping for the umpteenth tecar therapy miracle.
Today, fortunately, with the growth of the physiotherapist category, things are starting to change. However, all this has produced a futile divide between manual therapy and physical therapy.
Manual therapy, such as tecar therapy, also protects economic interests that exploit physiotherapists, acting on a pointless sense of belonging to one faction or another.

6 – Broad field of application and continuous training

The advantage of tecar therapy compared to other physical means is that it offers a vast field of application. Other methods are not indicated during acute phases, are not effective on deep structures or are difficult to apply to particular parts of the body because of their shape or size.
Tecar therapy is certainly the most versatile physical means on the market and, thanks to training courses offered by leading companies in the sector, physiotherapists can acquire all the elements needed to apply the method effectively to the various parts of the body, for different disorders.
It is difficult to use tecar therapy professionally without adequate training. A one-day course is simply insufficient! There are quality training courses available that can make the difference between using this technology simply to heat … and creating a modern therapeutic integration project.

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Conclusions
Tecar therapy is not a fashion and scientific studies are needed to give it the status it deserves in the world of physiotherapy. There is more to carrying out real tecar therapy treatment than simply owning a device. Unfortunately, there are too many companies that produce them and too many physiotherapists who use them without adequate training. Tecar therapy is the physical means that best lends itself to therapeutic integration. However, if you do not possess a thorough knowledge of how it works or if you own a poor-quality product, you will find yourself giving “ironing” treatments, thereby giving physiotherapists and the method itself a bad image
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