Radiofrequency-based treatment in therapy-related clinical practice – a narrative review. Part I: acute conditions

Binoy Kumaran, Tim Watson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
111 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Radiofrequency electromagnetic field (RFEMF or simply RF)-based electrophysical agents (EPAs) have been employed in therapy-related clinical practice for several decades. They are used to reduce pain and inflammation and enhance tissue healing. Although these agents have generally become less popular in contemporary therapy practice, surveys have shown that some of these modalities are still reasonably widely used. Objective: To review the evidence for the use of non-invasive low frequency RFs (30 kHz–30 MHz) in therapy-related clinical practice. Major findings: All peer reviewed therapy-related clinical studies published in English and concerning low frequency RF were sought. Identified literature was divided into acute and chronic segments based on their clinical area and analysed to assess the volume and scope of current evidence. The studies on acute conditions were reviewed in detail for this paper. One hundred twenty clinical studies were identified, of which 30 related to acute conditions. The majority of studies employed Pulsed Shortwave Therapy (PSWT). Twenty-two studies out of 30 were related to conditions of pain and inflammation, seven to tissue healing and one to acute pneumothorax. No studies were identified on frequencies other than shortwave. Conclusions: Evidence for and against RF-based therapy is available. There is reasonable evidence in support of PSWT to alleviate postoperative pain and promote postoperative wound healing. Evidence for other acute conditions is sparse and conflicting. A general lack of research emphasis in the non-shortwave RF band is evident, with studies on acute conditions almost non-existent. Further and wider research in this area is warranted.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-254
JournalPhysical Therapy Reviews
Issue number4
Early online date24 Jun 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2015


  • Acute conditions,Clinical effects,Electrophysical agents,Non-invasive,Radiofrequency


Dive into the research topics of 'Radiofrequency-based treatment in therapy-related clinical practice – a narrative review. Part I: acute conditions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this