Diathermy: FSA Eligibility

Diathermy: eligible with a Flexible Spending Account (FSA)
Diathermy medical service that is eligible for reimbursement with a flexible spending account (FSA), health savings account (HSA) or a health reimbursement arrangement (HRA). Diathermy is not eligible for reimbursement with a limited-purpose flexible spending account (LPFSA) or a dependent care flexible spending account (DCFSA).

What is diathermy?

Diathermy is a term that refers to a form of therapeutic heating that is designed to penetrate deep within the skin and muscle layers to provide heat therapy to troublesome areas of the body. Diathermy is used to promote improved circulation, accelerate the healing process from immediate or chronic injuries and increase soft tissue flexibility. However, unlike other forms of heat therapy, diathermy does not apply heat directly to the body, rather it will generate heat from within the targeted tissue (Healthline).

What are the types of diathermy?

Diathermy can be broken down into three main categories that are used in medical settings to treat a wide variety of immediate and chronic injuries via Healthline:

  • Ultrasound: Therapeutic ultrasound is by and large a physical therapy treatment method used to treat injuries like strained muscles and joint complications. This technique utilizes sound waves to stimulate the underlying tissue to treat musculoskeletal injuries through the use of a transducer or applicator that comes in direct contact with the patient's skin. This sound waves are very high frequency, between 800,000 Hz and 2,000,000 Hz that can assist in improving blood flow to the affected area, reduce swelling/inflammation and providing a gentle massage of the muscle tendons and ligaments.
  • Shortwave: These radio frequencies in the 1-100 Hz range are designed to heat large areas, while safely heating deep muscle tissue as well. Shortwave diathermy matches the depth and heating rate of 1 Hz of ultrasound, but it is dispersed over a much wider area. Shortwave therapy can be used to treat a wide variety of musculoskeletal injuries, but it is most often used to treat areas that are covered by a heavy soft-tissue mass, such as the hip to penetrate to the deep muscle and joints.
  • Microwave: Microwave diathermy falls into the range of 915 MHz to 2.45 GHz, which are higher in frequency and shorter in wavelength than shortwave diathermy. While microwaves are the easiest to use, they do not penetrate deeply into the inner muscles and joints when compared to ultrasound or shortwave diathermy. This technique is primarily used to bring about a state of hyperthermia, which raises the temperature of deeper tissues through the use of electromagnetic power. In addition to its role in pain relief, microwave diathermy is used to treat bacterial infections, abscesses, boils, and the management of superficial tumors in conjunction with conventional radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

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