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Tecartherapy, also known as Tecar or Capacitive-Resistive Energy Transfer, is a type of electromedical treatment, which is particularly used in the treatment of trauma and inflammatory pathologies of the musculoskeletal system. Widespread especially in the physiotherapy field, Tecartherapy consists of a particular massage, practiced through an instrument capable of reducing pain and accelerating the natural repair of tissues, where obviously there is damage. All this translates into a tangible shortening of healing times.

History of tecartherapy

Although Tecartherapy has acquired a certain popularity only in the last decades, the operating principles that underlie it are much older. Indeed, it was the French physician and physicist Jacques Arsène d'Arsonval who proposed them for the first time back in 1890. After d'Arsonval, several other scholars and inventors ventured into similar projects: among these, the English doctor William Beaumont stood out, who in 1939 also worked on the construction of the first electromedical instrument. Physics expert, Beaumont coined the term "diathermy" to identify the type of work he was carrying out. Diathermy is a word of Greek origin, which derives from the union of "dia" (διά), that is "through", and "thermos" (ϑερμός), that is "heat"; literally it means "heat through", but in the specific case it refers to a form of heat coming from inside. 

A particularly important date in the history of modern Tecartherapy is 1995: this year, in fact, the word Tecar was born, an acronym for Transfer Energy Capacitive And Resistive. Initially, modern Tecartherapy was a treatment reserved only for injured sportsmen, to heal earlier. Today, however, it has taken on decidedly different outlines and is useful for many categories of people, even those who do not play sports. For example, individuals with particular forms of arthritis are subjected to it, elderly people with the classic pathologies of advanced age, subjects with work-related disorders, etc.

How does Tecartherapy work? 

Tecartherapy is a form of endogenous thermotherapy: 

  • The word "thermotherapy" means "heat-based therapy". The use of heat for therapeutic purposes, especially in the presence of painful muscle and joint diseases, has been widespread for several decades. Some thermotherapies that preceded Tecar and are still in use today are: infrared, ultrasound and laser (laser therapy). 
  • The term "endogenous" refers to the fact that the Tecar instrument induces the production of heat from within the body (endogenous heat).

The main effects of endogenous heat: 

  • Endogenous heat production also in depth; 
  • Lowering of the viscosity of muscle and connective tissue; 
  • Increased blood circulation; 
  • Stimulation of lymphatic drainage; 
  • Increase in metabolic activity; 
  • Increased tissue oxygenation; 
  • Greater intake of nutrients; 
  • Rapid elimination of slag and catabolites; 
  • Acceleration of regenerative processes; 
  • Release of endorphin and reduction of pain.

Infrared, ultrasound and laser, on the other hand, require the use of equipment that emits heat themselves. This means that the heat is exogenous, that is, it comes from an external source to the body. 

The peculiarity of the functioning of Tecartherapy is that the instrument in use stimulates the production of heat (which is a form of energy) by the subject under treatment. 

In other words, it induces the patient's body to collaborate actively, for faster healing.

How the equipment works and how it is used: 

The Tecartherapy instrument exploits the physical principle of the condenser (or RC circuit or Resistance-Capacitor circuit). 

The physical principle of the capacitor comprises 4 elements: 

  • The two so-called condenser armatures, which are two plates facing each other; 
  • The insulating material, interposed between the two reinforcements; 
  • The electric generator, which, connected to the two armatures, creates a potential difference between them. 

This difference in potential causes one armature to assume a positive net charge (positive armature) and the other armature a negative net charge (negative armature). While positive armor attracts the negative electrical charges of the insulating material, negative armor attracts the positive ones.

By comparing the above scheme of elements with the Tecar device, it results that: 

  • The two capacitors of the condenser correspond to the movable plate, with which the therapist massages the painful or inflamed anatomical area, and to the fixed plate (called the return plate), which the therapist applies on the part of skin opposite to that to be treated. 
  • The insulating material coincides with the anatomical area to be treated, including all its tissues and electrolytes. Electrolytes are substances which, in solution, present a certain electric charge. In biological tissues, important electrolytes are, for example, sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium etc. 
  • The electric generator corresponds to the machine T-Plus to which the two plates are connected and which the therapist adjusts according to the needs. The difference in potential, created by the generator at the level of the two plates, moves the electrolytes inside the tissues. The movement of electrolytes is what generates endogenous heat.

Method of use of Tecartherapy  

The Tecar device can work in two modes: the capacitive mode and the resistive mode. The capacitive mode is indicated for the treatment of problems in the soft tissue level, with low resistance to the current, such as the muscles, the skin, the connective tissue, the blood vessels and the lymphatic vessels. The resistive mode, on the other hand, is ideal for the treatment of damage to tissues with a high resistance to the passage of current, such as bones, joints, tendons, ligaments, cartilages etc.  In light of this, it is quite clear that the choice of how Tecar is used depends exclusively on the type of biological tissue on which it is necessary to act. 

  • In capacitive mode, the use of an isolated movable plate is what allows to act specifically on soft tissues. 
  • The other way, in resistive mode, it is the use of a non-insulated movable plate which allows to act at the level of the tissues with a high current resistance.

Effects of Tecartherapy 

There are three biological effects produced by Tecartherapy and consist of: 

  • Increase in microcirculation 
  • Vasodilation 
  • Increase in internal temperature 

According to the results of numerous scientific studies conducted in this regard, the achievement of these effects depends on the amount of energy (energy level) that the Tecar device, at the hands of the therapist, transfers to the plates. In fact, to obtain an increase in microcirculation, the therapist must set the instrument to a low energy level (athermia); to obtain vasodilation, it must work at an intermediate (medium-thermal) energy level; finally, to obtain an increase in the internal temperature, it must adjust the device in such a way that it supplies a high energy level (hyperthermia). In essence, therefore, the energy levels are three and each of them is associated with a different biological effect. 

Based on what has just been said, regarding the link between the biological effect and the energy level used, it is clear that the choice of the amount of energy transferred by the device depends on the therapeutic objective. For example, if a patient presents a problem that resolves with the effects of vasodilation, then the therapist will have to set the Tecar instrument to an intermediate energy level.

The increase in microcirculation consists in the increased blood circulation inside the vessels of smaller caliber, such as capillaries, venules, arterioles etc. This has at least two major consequences: 
  • An increase in energy transformations, which results in a higher production of ATP by the cells concerned. 
  • An increase in oxygen consumption in the most superficial layers of the tissues. The increase in microcirculation is indicated to reduce pain and / or inflammation in the acute phase, to treat muscle injuries in the acute phase and to decrease edema.
Vasodilation consists of an increase in the caliber of blood vessels, both arterial and venous. The consequences associated with vasodilation include: 
  • The increase in the volume of blood flowing inside the vessels. 
  • A further increase in ATP production by the affected cells. 
  • An increase in oxygen consumption by the affected tissues. 
  • An improvement in lymphatic circulation. 
  • An increase in natural tissue repair processes (where there are clearly damaged tissues). 
  • A perceptible increase in the internal temperature. 
Typically, the patient perceives this increase just below the area where the therapist applied the movable plate. Vasodilatation is indicated to resolve muscle contractures and problems of blood circulation of a certain severity, to improve lymphatic drainage and muscle trophism etc.
The increase in internal temperature consists in the consistent production of endogenous heat by the treated anatomical area. 
The increase in the internal temperature is followed by: 
  • Further vasodilation and a further increase in blood flow. 
  • Further improvement of lymphatic circulation and drainage. 
  • A further increase in energy transformations, which culminate in a greater production of ATP. 
  • A further increase in cellular repair processes. 
  • A distinct sensation of heat at the level of the treated area. 
The increase in temperature is indicated to resolve chronic inflammations, tissue fibrosis, joint stiffness, lymphoedema states etc.

What is Tecartherapy used for: 
In the medical field, Tecartherapy is widely used in: 

.recovery from injuries, such as sprains, tendon injuries, tendinitis, bursitis, bone trauma outcomes, ligament distractions and joint problems;  

.treatment of muscle and osteoarticular diseases, such as contractures, muscle strains and strains, myositis, lumbago, sciatica, osteoarthritis and osteoarticular inflammation;  

.post-operative rehabilitation programs, such as after surgery for the insertion of a prosthesis.

The anatomical areas of the human body that best lend themselves to Tecar treatment are knee, shoulder, hip, ankle, foot, hand, wrist and spine.
What happens during a Tecartherapy session? 
Before starting a classic Tecartherapy session, the therapist invites the patient to remove any clothing that covers the area to be treated and to sit on a special reclining bed in order to facilitate the next steps. Once the patient is ready, therefore, he places the so-called fixed plate on the side of the human body opposite the area in need of care and, on the latter, he applies a conductive cream, which serves to facilitate massage by means of the movable plate and to improve the quality of the effects of Tecar. Only after the placement of the fixed plate and the application of the conductive cream, the therapeutic massage can be started by means of a mobile plate; since this massage involves an increase in the endogenous temperature, the therapist has the obligation to make sure, by directly asking the patient, that this increase is not such as to be painful. At the end of the massage, the therapist cleans the area of ​​the patient's body from the conductive cream by means of special wet wipes; at this point, the patient can get dressed and make an immediate return home.
Contraindications of tecartherapy 

Tecartherapy has no particular contraindications. The only people to whom doctors recommend a precaution (and perhaps the consultation of a specialist) are people with pacemakers, individuals insensitive to high temperatures and pregnant women.  
Several clinical studies, also based on direct patient testimonials, have shown that Tecartherapy is effective; in fact, it succeeds in shortening the healing times of both acute and chronic traumatic, muscular or osteoarticular pathologies.  
After what effect does it have?  
In general, the effects of Tecartherapy are appreciable after a cycle of 5-10 sessions close together over time (the ideal would be 3 sessions per week). It is necessary to point out, however, that there are conditions for which a longer cycle or periodic maintenance sessions are necessary.  
Advantages of Tecartherapy
The main advantages that make Tecartherapy a reliable and safe therapeutic solution are: 
  • Results appreciable in relatively few sessions; 
  • Very high precision on the target to be treated; 
  • Positive effects even on very deep tissues; 
  • Absence of major contraindications and side effects