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Is pulsed shortwave diathermy better than ice therapy for the reduction of oedema following calcaneal fractures? Preliminary trial

Lookup NU author(s): Peter Briggs, Dr Shahid Siddique, Dr Andrea Tasker


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Background and purpose. Ice therapy (Cryocuff®) is used to reduce oedema after calcaneal fractures. Pulsed shortwave diathermy would have to be more effective to justify its extra cost. This pilot study investigated the efficacy of pulsed shortwave diathermy and Cryocuff® for oedema reduction following calcaneal fractures. Methods. A prospective trial of patients presenting with acute calcaneal fractures, recruited over a two-year period. Malleolar, calcaneal and forefoot circumference, and ankle dorsiflexion and plantarflexion and subtalar inversion and eversion were measured daily. Results. Of 55 patients, 20 with unilateral fractures were allocated alternately to either ice therapy or pulsed shortwave diathermy and complete data were collected over five days. Maximum swelling reduction was 1.36 cm (range 0.3 cm increase to 5.2 cm decrease) around the calcaneum (p < 0.001) and ankle dorsiflexion/plantarflexion range of movement increased by 25° (range 5° to 55°, p < 0.001). Pulsed shortwave diathermy was not found to be substantially more effective than Cryocuff® within the limits of this study. Conclusions. A significant improvement in movement occurred over the five-day follow-up period in all patients, but no difference was found between the treatment groups. There was no clinically important improvement in swelling over the five days in either group. The Cryocuff® is less expensive, easier to use and portable, and remains the favoured method of treatment of oedema following calcaneal fractures in this unit.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Buzzard BM, Pratt RK, Briggs PJ, Siddique MS, Tasker A, Robinson S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Physiotherapy

Year: 2003

Volume: 89

Issue: 12

Pages: 734-742

ISSN (print): 0031-9406

ISSN (electronic): 1873-1465

Publisher: Elsevier


DOI: 10.1016/S0031-9406(05)60499-3


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