08 May 2024 |

Diathermy and cetylated fatty acids (CFAs): a winning combination against muscle pain

Musculoskeletal disorders, also known as cumulative trauma disorders, occur when the pressure applied to these tissues exceeds their tolerance to stress. These lesions are caused by physical activity over time and affect muscles, tendons, bones and joints which may present complications in a range of mild to severe symptoms.

Musculoskeletal pain may be limited to the affected area or spread to other anatomical districts, compromising the quality of life of the affected subject. Although various treatment options are available, some are disadvantageous due to their high costs and/or side effects. In this article we try to understand what the best solutions against musculoskeletal pain could be.

What is the best way to manage musculoskeletal disorders?

The pain in musculoskeletal disorders is attenuated thanks to the use of drugs, instrumental therapies and manual physiotherapy by healthcare specialists.

Pharmacological treatment with anti-inflammatory products

The most common pharmacological treatment is the application of topical anti-inflammatory products on the affected area. However, most anti-inflammatory molecules, due to their chemical-physical properties, are characterized by a low degree of absorption and skin penetration.
It is in fact known that the transdermal absorption of a molecule occurs by passive transport and depends on two main variables: the lipophilia of the molecule and the intrinsic permeability to the skin structures. As for the role of molecular lipophilia in the regulation of absorption through cell membranes, it is widely recognized that the greater the lipophilic component of a molecule, the greater will be its ease of the skin absorption. On the other hand, the presence of hydrophilic groups hinders the passage of the molecule through the cell membranes that make up the skin tissues.

The use of TECAR therapy

Among the instrumental treatments used by healthcare professionals, we find the Capacitive and resistive electric transfer (CRET) therapy (Diathermy). Diathermic therapy, commonly called TECAR, uses high frequency electromagnetic waves (0.3 to 1.2 MHz) and reduces activity-induced spasms and contractions, improves blood flow and helps muscle oxygenation through the activation of hemoglobin. Therefore, diathermic therapy improves the body’s natural ability to repair tissues and reduces pain. Scientific evidence have shown that patients undergoing diathermic therapy had shorter recovery times and regained normal limb function earlier.

Diathermy is a complementary method for the treatment of joint pain and is a valuable tool for physiotherapists that do not interfere with other therapies. This therapy is used in many fields of medicine, such as orthopedic, rheumatic and vascular aesthetic medicine, and its main advantage is that recovery times decrease significantly. Its main therapeutic application, as already mentioned above, is more placed in the field of physiotherapy, thanks to which it generates a rapid improvement of the acute inflammatory process and allows the return of muscle strength compared to other instrumental therapies.

Cetylated Fatty Acids (CFAs) for the management of musculoskeletal disorders

An important aid for the management of the painful symptomatology of musculoskeletal disorders comes from the Cetylated Fatty Acids (CFAs) patented by PharmaNutra in Cetilar® brand products. CFAs are a mix of fatty acids of plant origin that have proven to be effective in reducing muscle-joint and tendon pain.

The product line Cetilar® for topical use consists of:

The mechanism of action of CFAs is to promote joint lubrication and therefore to improve mechanically the movement of the joint thanks to their lipophilic nature, CFAs can have a high skin absorption, penetrating the anatomical area affected by inflammation. In addition, it has been shown that the beneficial effect produced by CFAs, applied by therapeutic massage in subjects with osteoarthritis pain syndrome, could be mediated by the mechanical modification of the synovial membrane, thus allowing the reduction of painful symptoms.

Scientific evidence on the use of CFAs and TECAR therapy

Some scientific evidence has been conducted to assess whether the combination of CFAs for topical use and diathermal therapy was useful to accelerate the recovery time in subjects suffering from musculoskeletal pain.

An observational study presented at the 2020 National Congress SIMFER (Italian Society of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation) by Dr. Valderetti, 31 subjects suffering from muscle pain, either osteo-articular or tendon, localized in various districts, were involved in the investigation that consisted in a series of sessions of diathermy (5 or 10 sessions) at the end of which 5 grams of Cetilar® Cream was applied through manual massage by the physiotherapists. Patients were asked to indicate pain on VAS scale (Visual Analogue Scale), one of the most used parameters for estimating pain intensity and for establishing the extent of pain relief, before starting treatment, after 5 sessions (short treatment) or after 10 sessions (long treatment).

Both patients who had short treatment and those who had long treatment reported significant pain reduction. The results of this observational study confirm that the application of Cetilar® Cream after diathermy sessions is a winning combination in pain reduction in situations that most commonly affect the population of a certain age and that are hardly resolved in such a short time.

This important result allowed to establish that the combined treatment of diathermy followed by the topical application of CFA has been shown to be effective in reducing muscle, joint and tendon pain.

In conclusione, l’applicazione di Cetilar® Crema dopo ogni seduta di diatermia è stata considerata efficace, curativa e l’utilizzo di questa crema contemporaneamente alla TECAR non ha alcun effetto dannoso sul macchinario durante la sessione di trattamento.

In conclusion, the application of Cetilar® Cream after each diathermy session has been considered effective and curative, and the use of Cetilar® simultaneously with TECAR has no harmful effect on the diathermy machine during the treatment session.



  1. Vahdatpour B., et al.; Effects of Transfer Energy Capacitive and Resistive On Musculoskeletal Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis: Galen Med J. 2022 Nov 17;11:e2407.
  2. Visconti L., et al.; Comparison of the effectiveness of manual massage, long-wave diathermy, and sham long-wave diathermy for the management of delayed-onset muscle soreness: a randomized controlled trial.Arch Physiother. 2020 Jan 15;10:1.
  3. Valderetti N., et al.; Effect of combined diathermy treatment with topic application of a cream based on cetylated fatty acids (CFAs) in pain reduction in average elderly patients. SIMFER Congress; 2020 Dec 2-4;
  4. Ariani A., et al.; Short-Term Effect of Topical Cetylated Fatty Acid on Early and Advanced Knee Osteoarthritis: A Multi-Center Study. Arch Rheumatol. 2018 Mar 23;33(4):438-442.


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