The pain relief effect of the radiation was known after the discovery of the x-ray beams at the end of the 19th century. At the beginning of the 20th century the radiation therapy was used to treat not only benign conditions but also malignant tumours. This has changed and the number of benign degenerative and inflammatory conditions treated with radiation therapy subsided as new medicine and treatment modalities were developed.
The usage of radiation therapy to treat painful degenerative and inflammatory diseases is an effective addition with few side effects to other treatments. Positive results of radiation therapy treatment, most of all its painkilling effect, have led to its increased popularity. The radiation therapy painkilling effect mechanisms still need investigating but the following interdependencies are under discussion: better tissue perfusion, destruction of inflammation in tissue, stimulation of the immune defence cells, neutralization of the acidic tissue and subsequently better inflammatory response, influence over the pain fibers of the autonomous vegetative system.
Unfortunately, the patients often do not receive radiation therapy treatment due to poor knowledge. Sometimes the radiation treatment is prescribed as last resort after other methods of treatment, e.g. physiotherapy, ultrasound, acupuncture and various forms of medication have failed or have not brought about any improvement. The radiation therapy should always be regarded as an alternative or complement modality to other established treatment methods. The X-ray radiation therapy shows good results in treating such degenerative and inflammatory diseases as tennis and golf elbow (Epicondylitis), frozen shoulder (Scapulohumeral periarthritis), plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendonitis. On top of that the radiation therapy is beneficial for treating painful degenerative joint disorders – hand, finger, shoulder, knee and hip joints. The radiation therapy is also used to treat Dupyutren’s and Ledderhose contracture.
The degenerative and inflammatory diseases radiation therapy treatment is conducted by a radiographer.
The doctor double checks whether other treatment methods have been considered. He double checks the accurate indications. The radiation treatment process as well as possible side effects will be discussed with the patient. The treatment itself lasts several seconds only. The number of sessions will be decided upon by the doctor. In some cases there could be some deterioration as a response to the therapy after the first exposure, which will clear up in several days. In most cases the repetitive radiation exposures result in lasting pain reduction.