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Radiation therapy for heel spurs
BERLIN (eb). Radiation therapy is mostly used for cancer. In Germany, however, over 40,000 patients with benign diseases receive radiation therapy every year.
This corresponds to 10 to 20 percent of all radiation and primarily affects inflammatory soft tissue, degenerative joint and connective tissue diseases such as osteoarthritis, heel spur, tennis elbow, but also benign vascular tumors.
The radiation dose used is lower than in cancer therapy, and the success of the treatment is high. This is what the German Society for Radiation Oncology (DEGRO) points out on the occasion of a current study on the treatment of painful heel spurs.
A heel spur is a thorn-like bone growth on the heel. Due to micro-injuries of the tissue, due to excessive and incorrect loads such as foot misalignments or excess weight, bone material is deposited at the tendon attachment.
Pain in the absence of stress
Around ten percent of the population suffer from heel spurs - often without symptoms. If the area of the ossified tendon attachment is irritated, it can lead to inflammation. This is often associated with great pain and difficulty walking.
The pain is particularly noticeable when the foot is not put under pressure for a long time. The typical pain in the morning after getting up are an example of this, as DEGRO reports.
To treat the heel spur, patients usually receive orthopedic insoles and physiotherapy. Surgery is only an option in rare cases.
A safe and very effective method of relieving pain is so-called pain radiation. "Radiation therapy is a very effective and safe treatment method. The response rates are particularly high at 70 to 100 percent," said private lecturer Oliver Micke from the Franziskus Hospital in Bielefeld, initiator of the study on the effectiveness of radiation in painful heel spurs quoted.
6 Gray on the spur
66 patients took part in the study, split between two study arms. Irradiation was carried out twice a week with a standard dose of 6 Gray (Gy) and a very low dose of 0.6 Gy over a period of three weeks.
After a total of 12 months, the researchers were able to demonstrate that the standard dose of 6 Gy - still a very low dose - contained pain considerably more effectively and for longer than the lower dose.
In addition, the method is practically free of acute side effects and long-term radiation effects, according to Micke, who is also deputy chairman of the DEGRO working group "Benign Diseases".
"Radiation is an option for heel spur patients for whom conventional therapy and the administration of painkillers have not helped," said Professor Jürgen Dunst, DEGRO President and Director of the Clinic for Radiation Therapy at the University of Lübeck.
But you shouldn't wait too long: the earlier the irradiation, the greater the success of the treatment. The therapy is short, requires little planning and is very effective.
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