Tecar therapy uses the electrical principle of the capacitor to cure many skeletal muscle complaints.
The name of the device stands as an acronym for “energetic capacitive resistive transfer”.
Tecar therapy® was developed in Spain in 1997 and is playing an increasingly important role in physical physiotherapy.
It is often used to treat athletes because it shows good results in a very short time, a noticeable improvement in the condition is already recorded at the first application.
It is a registered trademark of Unibell International s.r.l.
The difference to the other electrical therapy devices consists mainly in the following aspects:
- endogenous effect (the energy used is generated inside the body);
- deep penetration into the body;
- treatment can begin already in the acute phase;
- there are two types of electrodes: capacitive and resistive.
How does Tecar therapy work?
Microscopically, the cell is like a battery, inside the membrane it has a negative charge, outside a positive charge.
The difference in energy potential must assume a fixed value depending on the tissue structure, in the muscle, for example, this is – 90 mV. Due to an inflammatory or traumatic event, the difference can drop down to -20/30 mV, impairing the functioning of the cell and stopping the healing process.
Tecar therapy® accelerates the repair processes of the cells and thus contributes to a considerable reduction in recovery times.
The device has a stimulating effect on the cell membrane potential.
The operation is based on the generation of a magnetic field with high frequency; devices with a frequency between 0.45 MHz and 1.2 MHz are offered on the market.
Tecar therapy® uses the effect of the capacitor on the human body, inducing the tissue ion-related “displacement” currents generated by an alternating movement of electrical charges. As a further effect, the blood flow in the treated tissue structures can increase (hyperemia), which is particularly helpful for loosening stiff joints after a long immobilization, muscle contractions, muscle tear.
Tecar therapy can be used variably depending on the joint: I noticed that the shoulder responds better to cold treatment, while the knee shows better results with strong heating.
The increased temperature in the cell leads to an increased metabolism, which means an improved supply of nutrients and oxygen to the cell and removal of waste products from the cell.
The heat is generated inside the body, so it is endogenous, and arises as a result of the resistance of the tissue structures to the ion shift (ions are atoms with positive or negative charge) in the cell, which is caused by the capacitor effect of the Tecar®.
The high frequency of the supplied current makes it possible to warm up the deep body tissue, even without muscle contractions, as happens with electrotherapy (tens, poop currents). At the vascular level, the permeability of the capillaries and cell membranes is rebalanced and the release of the lymph node stations overloaded by waste products is stimulated. The use of the resistive electrode has a greater effect on the tissue structures with low water concentration: bones, tendons, adipose tissue and muscle sheaths. The capacitive electrode acts on soft tissues with a high water content: muscles and blood vessels.
What are the indications of Tecar therapy?
With Tecar therapy®, many diseases can be successfully treated, not only athletic or orthopedic, but also vascular, rheumatological and aesthetic. Personally, I have had good experiences in the treatment of the following complaints:
- Painful shoulder (inflammation of the upper bone muscle tendon or long biceps tendon, bursitis, impingement syndrome).
- Muscle lesions, muscle pain, strains or contractures.
- Sprained ankle with swelling and inflammation.
- Heel pain, heel spurs and plantar fasciitis.
- Osteoarthritis-related knee pain (gonalgia), patellofemoral pain syndrome, sprain, etc.
- Lymphatic drainage of the limbs.
- Rheumatic diseases such as ankylosing spondylitis.
- Osteoarthritis of the hip joint.
- Lumbalgia or low back pain, cervicalgia (neck pain) and back pain due to inflammation of the tissues.
How is Tecar therapy used?
There are many different Tecar models that differ in frequency, power, materials used, etc.
In the application, a passive electrode, “plate”, is brought into contact with the patient’s body and then the desired area is processed with the help of a second electrode. This “active” electrode can be manually controlled by the physiotherapist or attached to the diseased tissue.
By attaching a potential difference at two points, an electrical energy flow is created, therefore the passive plate is necessary.
If the second electrode is moved manually, some cream must be applied to the area to be treated to facilitate gliding.
Depending on the condition, the therapist will decide whether to use the resistive or capacitive circuit, or both.
The duration of treatment depends on the symptoms, is on average about 20 minutes, but can also be up to an hour if an acute incident is treated.
As a rule, the patient does not feel anything during application, but in some cases it is necessary to increase the power to create a thermal effect.
If the physiotherapist deems it useful, certain exercises can be performed during the Tecar application or the affected area can be massaged with the electrode.
What are the contraindications of Tecar therapy?
- decompensated arterial diseases
- malignant tumors
- Paresthesia in the affected region (for example, a herniated disc or diabetes can cause a loss of sensitivity in the foot).