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FOTO Rehab Outcomes Blog

Low Dose Radiation Therapy for Musculoskeletal Problems

After I read the abstract I was cringing. Believe me, I think it is great to dream and have ideas. 

When it comes to a potentially new treatment, I would prefer if there is a control group. How do we know if radiation therapy is better? This abstract doesn't mention any complications or side effects.  With what was reported as the results, it seems we could toss a coin with regard to whether long term pain relief will occur. 

Below you will find a quick view of the abstract.


Low-Dose Radiation Therapy for Benign Painful Skeletal Disorders: The Typical Treatment for the Elderly Patient?




To prospectively evaluate the short-term and long-term efficacy of low-dose radiation therapy (RT) for calcaneodynia, achillodynia, painful gonarthrosis, and painful bursitis trochanterica in elderly patients aged ≥70 years.


Between October 2011 and October 2013, patients aged ≥70 years with painful degenerative disorders of joints were recruited for a prospective trial. Single doses of 0.5 to 1.0 Gy and a total dose of 6.0 Gy per series were used. Pain was measured before and right after RT (early response) with a 10-point visual analogue scale. Additionally, pain relief was measured with the 4-point pain scale according to "von Pannewitz" immediately on completion of RT and during follow-up. We defined a good response as complete pain relief and markedly improved.


A total of 166 evaluable patients with a mean age of 76.6 years (range, 70-90 years) with calcaneodynia (n=51), achillodynia (n=8), painful gonarthrosis (n=80), and painful bursitis trochanterica (n=27) were recruited. The mean visual analogue scale value before treatment was 6.38 and immediately upon completion of RT was 4.49 (P<.001). Concerning the von Pannewitz status immediately on completion of RT, 6 patients were free of pain, 56 were much improved, 47 reported slight improvement, and 57 experienced no change. After a median follow-up of 29 months, 109 patients could be reached for evaluation of follow-up results. Thirty-three patients were free of pain, 21 had marked improvement, 18 had some improvement, and 37 experienced no change. Therefore, a good response immediately on completion of RT could be achieved in 62 of 166 patients, and with the follow-up in 54 of 109 patients (P=.001).


Low-dose RT is a very effective treatment for the management of painful degenerative disorders of joints in the elderly. Low-dose RT offers a low-risk, genuinely conservative, noninvasive therapeutic alternative for elderly patients.

 2017 Jul 15;98(4):958-963. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2016.12.012. Epub 2016 Dec 18.