Radiofrequency-based electrophysical agents (EPA) have been used in therapy practice over several decades (e.g., shortwave therapies). Currently, there is insufficient evidence supporting such devices operating below shortwave frequencies. This laboratory-based study investigated the skin physiological effects of 448 kHz capacitive resistive monopolar radiofrequency (CRMRF) and compared them to pulsed shortwave therapy (PSWT). In a randomised crossover study, seventeen healthy volunteers received four treatment conditions - High, Low and Placebo dose conditions receiving 15-min CRMRF treatment and a Control condition receiving no intervention. Fifteen participants also received high dose PSWT for comparison. Treatment was applied to the right lower medial thigh. Pre, post and 20-min follow-up measurements of skin temperature (SKT), skin blood flow (SBF) and nerve conduction velocity (NCV) were obtained using Biopac MP150 system. Group data were compared using the ANOVA model. Statistical significance was set at p ≤ 0.05 (0.8P, 95%CI). Significant increase and sustenance of SKT with both high and low dose CRMRF was demonstrated over the other groups (p < 0.001). PSWT increased SKT significantly (p < 0.001) but failed to sustain it over the follow-up. However, among the five conditions, only high dose CRMRF significantly increased and sustained SBF (p < 0.001). Overall, the CRMRF physiological responses were significantly more pronounced than that of PSWT. No significant changes in NCV were noted for any condition. Physiological changes associated with CRMRF were more pronounced when compared to PSWT, placebo or control. Any potential stronger therapeutic benefits of CRMRF need to be confirmed by comparative clinical studies.
Keywords: Electrophysical agents; physiological effects; radiofrequency; skin blood flow; skin temperature.