Before radiotherapy treatment

Radiotherapy, also called radiation therapy, is a medical treatment that uses low doses of radiation (generally with X-rays) to target specific areas of the body affected by various conditions. It is used in high doses for cancer treatment but is used in much lower doses to treat non-cancer (benign) conditions like osteoarthritis and tendon problems.

Low-dose radiotherapy uses carefully controlled and small amounts of radiation directed towards the sore joints to make the pain better and help the joints work better. You don’t have to stay in the hospital for this – it’s done in a clinic, and you can keep doing your regular activities while getting help for the pain in your joints.

Consider having low-dose radiotherapy if you have ongoing joint pain from osteoarthritis. If the usual treatments like medicine, exercises, and lifestyle changes aren’t making the pain better enough, or if your symptoms are getting worse, radiotherapy could be a good option. Also, if you can’t or don’t want to have surgery because of health reasons or personal choice, looking into radiotherapy might be another way to handle osteoarthritis symptoms. The goal is to give you targeted relief, to make your joints work better and to improve how you feel overall.

Low dose radiotherapy is a safe, effective, and non-invasive treatment option. If you’re experiencing pain or other issues due to a medical condition, it’s vital to have a thorough discussion with your doctor so that you can make an informed decision that considers your individual needs and preferences.

Yes, low-dose radiotherapy for osteoarthritis pain is very safe. The careful use of controlled, small amounts of radiation ensures it’s a safe and effective way to deal with joint issues. You don’t have to go through surgery or get injections, and it’s done in a clinic, so you can keep up with your regular activities. The goal is to keep side effects to a minimum, and they’re usually mild and temporary, like a bit of redness or dry skin. Before you start, our team will discuss your situation to make sure you get the treatment that is right for you. They’ll also keep an eye on you during the process to manage any issues that may sometimes pop up.

Radiotherapy isn’t limited to cancer treatment; it’s also effective for certain non-cancerous conditions. For conditions involving tissue overgrowth, using approximately half the dose used for cancer treatment can effectively halt their growth. We can also use very low doses of radiotherapy because it reduces inflammation and relieves pain.

Low-dose radiotherapy for osteoarthritis and joint pain is usually tolerated very well, and side effects tend to be minimal. The common ones are usually mild and temporary, like a bit of redness or dry skin where you got treated. Some people might feel a bit tired during or after the treatment, but you’ll bounce back quickly. You will discuss this in detail with your radiotherapy doctor before you start so you know what might happen, and they’ll keep an eye on things during the process to handle any issues that come up.

Yes, low-dose radiotherapy can be beneficial in managing a certain type of arthritis called osteoarthritis, also known as “wear and tear” arthritis or “degenerative joint disease”. It tends not to be used for other types of arthritis (for instance rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis).

Recent research highlights its effectiveness in reducing osteoarthritis pain in roughly 7 out of 10 people treated with radiotherapy.

Everyone with osteoarthritis should prioritise simple self-help measures like exercise, staying active, and managing weight, regardless of the stage of their condition. While some people who have significant pain may try painkillers, creams, or injections, these options may not always provide enough relief. When osteoarthritis reaches a severe stage, joint replacement surgery becomes an option. However, for those who are in the in-between stage where medications are not sufficiently effective, but they are not yet ready for invasive surgery, low dose radiotherapy is a safe and effective treatment option.

No, radiation therapy, especially in the form of low-dose radiotherapy, is designed to reduce arthritis symptoms rather than make them worse. Occasionally people find that they have a temporary increase in pain for a few weeks after the radiotherapy before it then starts to improve.

Deciding between surgery or low dose radiotherapy for osteoarthritis depends on various factors, including the severity of the condition, individual health status, and treatment goals. While surgery may help where there are more significant structural changes, low dose radiotherapy can provide pain relief with fewer risks and a shorter recovery time, particularly for individuals with less severe cases. Ultimately, the choice should be made in consultation with a healthcare provider who can assess your specific needs and preferences.

During your consultation, we’ll discuss your condition, its duration, aggravating factors, pain levels, and impact on daily activities. After examining you and reviewing scans and X-rays, we’ll determine the course of action. We’ll then have a detailed conversation about the treatment’s benefits, potential drawbacks, effectiveness for your condition, and associated risks. If you choose to proceed, you’ll sign a consent form, and we’ll mark the treatment area. We’ll then schedule a CT scan to design the radiotherapy, and the treatment will start a week or two later.

Get in touch with us today to talk about your symptoms, explore our low-dose radiotherapy options, and start a journey towards a life with less pain and better movement in your joints.

We’ll get back to you quickly – usually within one working day. If you want to set up an appointment, we’ll do our best to make it work for you.

The first appointment can happen in Nottingham, London, or Guildford. The treatment itself can be delivered in various locations across the UK, including Nottingham, Birmingham, London, Cambridge, Milton Keynes, Oxford, Elstree, Chelmsford, Bristol, Windsor, Guildford, Maidstone, Southampton, and Portsmouth.

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The number of low-dose radiotherapy treatments required depends on the condition’s severity and your response to the treatment. Initially we plan for two courses. The first course involves six sessions over 2-3 weeks, followed by a similar second course of six sessions. We’ll evaluate your pain status three months after the first course. If your pain has completely gone, we may stop the treatment there. However, for most people we will proceed to the second course. Both courses of treatment are included in the package price.

If you are paying for the treatment yourself then we will send you a price list detailing the cost of this treatment. It may vary according to which centre you decide to have your treatment in. We will also let you know the options of how to pay. Some Private Health Insurance companies cover this treatment and others do not. If you let us know which company you are with then we can advise you on this.    

Preparing for radiotherapy treatment involves simple steps to make the experience go more smoothly:

  • Consultation: The consultant and their team will discuss the procedure, its benefits, and potential side effects with you. This is an opportunity to ask questions and address any concerns.
  • Clothing: Wear loose, comfortable clothing on the day of treatment.
  • Jewellery and Accessories: Remove any jewellery or accessories around the treatment area to avoid interfering with the radiotherapy process.
  • Hygiene: Maintain good hygiene, but avoid applying lotions or creams to the treatment area on the day of the session unless advised otherwise by the team.
  • Diet and Hydration: Eat a normal meal before treatment and stay hydrated.
  • Medication: Inform your consultant about any medicines you are taking. We will guide you on whether to continue or make adjustments during the radiotherapy period.
  • Comfort Items: Bring things like a book or music to help pass the time during the clinic visit.

By following these simple guidelines, you can enhance your comfort and readiness for low-dose radiotherapy, promoting a positive experience. Always communicate openly with our healthcare team for personalised advice and support.

Yes, you can drive yourself to low-dose radiotherapy sessions for osteoarthritis. The treatment is designed to be minimally invasive, allowing you to keep on doing normal activities, including driving.

Occasionally people may feel a bit tired after the treatment, so it’s a good idea to listen to your body. If you experience significant fatigue or discomfort that could affect your ability to drive safely, it’s advisable to arrange for an alternative transportation method, such as having a friend or family member drive you.

Always communicate with our healthcare team about any concerns or specific instructions regarding driving before and after radiotherapy sessions.

Low-dose radiotherapy is carefully planned to keep side effects to a minimum. The use of low radiation levels is specifically designed to provide relief and improve the function of the hip joint without causing complications.

Possible side effects from hip bone radiation might include mild and temporary reactions in the treated area, like a bit of redness or dry skin. Usually, these effects go away shortly after finishing the treatment. Also, some people might feel a bit tired either during or after the session, but getting enough rest usually brings energy levels back up quickly.

It’s important to know that low-dose radiotherapy is created to be well-tolerated, and severe side effects are rare. However, how each person reacts can be different. Your consultant will have a thorough discussion about potential side effects with you, taking into account your specific health situation and the exact treatment area.

Yes, radiotherapy has been found to reduce inflammation. In the case of osteoarthritis and joint pain, low-dose radiotherapy is designed to decrease swelling and alleviate inflammation in the affected joints.  

Yes, radiotherapy reduces the pain of knee osteoarthritis in 3 out of 4 people. Low-dose radiotherapy, specifically designed for osteoarthritis and joint pain, targets the affected knee area. This therapy aims to reduce pain, inflammation, and swelling in the knee joint, providing relief for people dealing with knee arthritis.

Low-dose radiotherapy for osteoarthritis in the hand, wrist and fingers is generally well-tolerated with minimal side effects. The carefully controlled and very low dose radiation used in this treatment provides relief without causing complications.

You may experience slight redness, dryness, or irritation in the treated area. These effects tend to go away shortly after completing the treatment. Additionally, some people may feel a bit tired during or after the session, but getting enough rest usually brings energy levels up quickly.

Low-dose radiotherapy is designed to be safe, and significant side effects are not common. However, how each person reacts can be different. Your consultant will discuss potential side effects with you, taking into account your unique health situation and the specific treatment area.

Low-dose radiotherapy, used to ease osteoarthritis pain, tends to have minimal side effects. The main aim of this treatment is to provide relief while minimising any possible complications.

You may experience slight skin redness, dryness, or irritation but this is usually temporary and mild. Typically, these effects fade shortly after completing the treatment. Also, some individuals might feel a bit tired either during or after the session, but getting enough rest usually brings energy levels back up quickly.

Low-dose radiotherapy is designed to put safety first, so that significant side effects are rare. However, how each person reacts can be different. Your consultant will have a detailed discussion about potential side effects with you, taking into account your unique health circumstances.

Low dose radiotherapy for benign conditions, especially when applied to areas like the hand or elbow, carries a minimal risk of causing cancer. This treatment is typically targeted to specific areas that are not prone to cancer development. However, a detailed discussion with your doctor is crucial to ensure the safest and most effective treatment for each person.

Yes, low dose radiotherapy can be used with other treatments like medications, injections or exercises. It’s a combined approach that helps improve treatment effectiveness and manage symptoms. However, decisions about using multiple treatments may involve doctors working together and closely monitoring the patient for the best results.

During radiotherapy treatment

Low-dose radiotherapy works by using carefully controlled, small amounts of radiation to focus on the particular areas affected by osteoarthritis. Unlike the more intense radiotherapy used for cancer treatment, this treatment uses very tiny doses of radiation, so that it is very safe. This level of radiation is known to reduce swelling and abnormal cell activity that causes pain in affected joints, like hands, knees, hips, elbows and shoulders. The aim is to ease discomfort without the need for surgery, providing an alternative for those looking for relief from ongoing joint pain.

The treatment involves several key stages:

  • Initial Consultation: You start with an initial consultation where the consultant will thoroughly assess you. They will discuss your symptoms, health history, and conduct any necessary examination.
  • Personalised Treatment Plan: Based on the assessment, a personalised treatment plan is carefully designed to match your specific condition with a targeted treatment approach.
  • Six Low-Dose Radiotherapy Sessions: The actual treatment involves low-dose radiotherapy sessions, also known as external beam radiation therapy. During each session, you will lie on your back on a firm couch. The machine will then be positioned over the area being treated, and carefully controlled radiation will be directed for a minute or two at the specific areas causing pain. It’s done on an outpatient basis, allowing you to maintain your normal activities. A typical course of radiotherapy involves six sessions over 2 – 3 weeks. Each session is relatively short, usually taking less than 10 minutes.You can resume your normal activities right away, including driving.
  • Monitoring and Check-Ups: You will be monitored by the treatment staff throughout to make sure that you are coping well with the treatment, so that any issues can be addressed as they come up. Your consultant will review you approximately 3 months after the end of the course of radiation to assess your response to the treatment.

You will receive a questionnaire to gather details about yourself and your condition, including any previous treatments. During your clinic visit, we’ll ask further questions and conduct an examination. If low dose radiotherapy is suitable for your condition and you choose to proceed, you’ll sign a consent form. We’ll then schedule a CT scan, not for new findings but to ensure precise radiotherapy targeting. Typically, there’s a week or two between the CT scan and the start of treatment. When you arrive at the radiotherapy centre for treatment, you’ll lie down for the painless procedure, lasting approximately 10 minutes each day.

Low dose radiotherapy is a painless treatment. Overall it’s very well tolerated but any concerns about discomfort should be discussed with your healthcare provider.

Each radiation session takes less than 10 minutes. A typical course involves six treatments spread over 2 – 3 weeks. Around 70% of people require a second course of radiotherapy for the most benefit.

Low dose radiotherapy does not result in head hair loss. Unlike higher doses used in certain cancer treatments, low dose radiotherapy is targeted and minimises side effects.

Low dose radiotherapy doesn’t induce feelings of sickness. It’s generally very well tolerated, though, like any treatment, it may have some mild side effects.

During radiation treatment, it’s important to avoid applying creams, lotions, or powders to the treated area unless recommended by our healthcare team. Follow our guidance on clothing choices and be cautious about engaging in strenuous physical activities that might strain the treated region. Additionally, after you have finished the radiotherapy course, you should avoid exposing the treated area to intense sunlight. 

Taking a break in the middle of the course of radiotherapy should be discussed and coordinated with your healthcare team. Usually, it’s best to follow the treatment schedule they recommend to make sure that low-dose radiotherapy works as well as possible. If you have questions or need changes to your treatment plan, have a chat with our team to figure out what’s best for you.

You should not plan a holiday during the 2 to 3 weeks of radiotherapy treatment as keeping to the recommended treatment schedule is crucial for the success of low-dose radiotherapy for osteoarthritis and joint pain. If you think you may need to go away during that time then just discuss it with us first so that we can plan your treatment around it.

Swimming during low-dose radiotherapy tends not to cause any problems, although occasionally it can make the area go a bit red and irritated because of the chlorine in the water. On the other hand, it is important to keep on doing exercise as this can really help with your joint pain.

Yes, you can hug someone going through low-dose radiotherapy. Once the radiotherapy machine stops the treatment each day, there is no radiation left in your body, so it is no risk to anyone that you come near to.

After radiotherapy treatment

Low dose radiotherapy is a very safe and non-invasive treatment. Generally, for benign conditions like osteoarthritis, there might be minimal to no downtime, with patients able to resume normal activities shortly after treatment (you can carry on driving and working during your radiotherapy course).

Here’s a list of things to consider avoiding for a few weeks after low-dose radiotherapy for osteoarthritis:

  • Direct Sun Exposure: Protect the treated area from prolonged or intense sun exposure, especially if the skin is sensitive due to radiotherapy.
  • Harsh Skincare Products: Choose gentle, moisturising products.
  • Tight Clothing: Choose loose-fitting clothing to prevent unnecessary friction or irritation on the treated skin.
  • Saunas: Skip saunas or prolonged exposure to very hot water, as it may increase sensitivity in the treated region.
  • Strenuous Physical Activity: Refrain from intense physical activities that may strain or impact the treated joints, giving them time to heal. However, you should continue with moderate activities and keep moving.
  • Abrasive Scrubbing: Avoid abrasive scrubbing or vigorous rubbing of the treated area to prevent skin irritation.
  • Smoking: If you smoke, consider reducing or quitting, as smoking may interfere with the healing process.
  • Alcohol Consumption: Limit alcohol consumption, as excessive alcohol intake can affect the body’s ability to recover.
  • Remember, individual responses to treatment can vary, so it’s essential to discuss specific post-treatment guidelines with our healthcare team to ensure the best outcomes for your situation.

Yes, you can sleep next to someone after low-dose radiotherapy for osteoarthritis and joint pain. Low-dose radiotherapy is a targeted and localised treatment that doesn’t make you radioactive. Once the radiotherapy machine stops treating you, there is no radiation left in the body. It’s entirely safe to share a sleeping space with someone after your treatment sessions.

After low-dose radiotherapy, it’s generally advisable to take precautions in the sun. Your treated skin might be more sensitive, so keeping the treated area out of direct intense sunlight. Using sunscreen is a good idea to prevent potential irritation.

There is no reason why you can’t fly immediately after low dose radiotherapy treatment.

Low-dose radiotherapy doesn’t compromise the body’s immune system.

No, you don’t have to be alone after low-dose radiotherapy for osteoarthritis and joint pain. Low-dose radiotherapy is a non-invasive outpatient procedure and, as soon as the treatment machine is turned off, there is no radiation left in your body. You can be with friends and family immediately after the treatment.

On the last day of treatment you can continue with your regular activities Our healthcare team will provide information about follow-up care and any necessary post-treatment steps to support your recovery. It’s an opportunity to ask any remaining questions and receive guidance on moving forward. Generally, your consultant will want to see you at 3 months after the radiotherapy in order to assess how well the radiotherapy has worked. 

Low-dose radiotherapy doesn’t compromise the immune system. Unlike more intensive radiation treatments used in cancer therapy, low-dose radiotherapy has no impact on the immune system. Adopting healthy lifestyle habits is always beneficial though and here are some simple steps you can take:

  • Balanced Nutrition: Focus on a well-rounded diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. Proper nutrition provides essential vitamins and minerals to support your immune system.
  • Adequate Hydration: Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated to support overall health.
  • Regular Exercise: Engage in regular, moderate exercise as it contributes to overall wellbeing and joint health.
  • Adequate Sleep: Ensure you get enough quality sleep each night. Sleep is crucial for immune function and overall recovery.
  • Stress Management: Practice stress-reducing activities such as meditation, deep breathing, or yoga. Chronic stress can make people more sensitive to pain.
  • Follow-Up Care: We will offer you an appointment to see the consultant at 3 months after the end of radiotherapy to check on how you are and consider whether you need further treatment.

The timeframe to see results from low dose radiotherapy can vary depending on the condition being treated and individual response. Some patients may experience improvement shortly after receiving treatment, while others may require more time to notice changes, which could take several weeks to a few months. We tend to use two courses of radiotherapy to make the treatment as effective as possible.