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Low Dose Radiotherapy for Osteoarthritis: An Alternative Noninvasive, Cost-Effective,Treatment with Great Therapeutic Results and Minimal Side Effects

Osteoarthritis (OA) is known to be a progressively debilitating disorder commonly presenting with symptoms of pain, loss of mobility, joint stiffness, and fatigue. It is the second leading cause of disability, the second-most costly health condition, and the fastest increasing medical condition in the United States. The incidence and prevalence of OA are expected to continuously rise parallel to an aging population, with 1 in 7 Americans living with a diagnosis of OA at present.

Currently, there is no definitive intervention for addressing early-stage OA given that the etiology is multifactorial, and the exact disease mechanism is still not completely understood. Since there are no universal guidelines for the specific sequencing or combination of therapies, interventions usually differ among patients. At first, conservative therapies are utilized, such as weight loss, physical rehab, and keeping up with moderate levels of physical activity. If OA is resistant to such approaches, Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) are then given as a trial for relief. However, long term NSAIDS are associated with their own complications, such as gastrointestinal bleeds, cardiovascular events, and possible renal failure. 

Fortunately, low-dose radiotherapy (LDRT) has now positioned itself as an acceptable and effective therapeutic alternative for patients with OA, as seen in multiple clinical trials that have exhibited symptomatic pain relief in 63 to 90% of all irradiated patients. These same studies reveal very minimal to no acute or late side effects, with some publications showing only mild skin redness as a presenting symptom. In addition, LDRT has not shown to have a negative impact on the function of noninflamed joints or is it a contraindication for a subsequent surgical intervention.


So, how can LDRT play a role for OA in patients today? Currently, LDRT is gaining utilization for refractory OA that has exhausted other first-line medical interventions, or even delivered before a more invasive procedure, such as a joint replacement. LDRT fills in the sweet spot for

patients who are resistant to benign interventions, most likely require a more aggressive intervention, but would like to trial a more conservative treatment approach first. LDRT would also not be a burden to the patient’s life, since a RT course is usually consisting of only 2-3 treatments a week for a total of 2 weeks. 

Have you had it with OA and the disability it causes? Is nothing working for your OA? Are you running out of therapeutic options, and do not want to pursue an aggressive intervention yet? If you answered yes to any of the above, then Low-dose RT might be right for you. It is a noninvasive, cost-effective, treatment with minimal side effects and good therapeutic results.


If you would like to learn more about LDRT for your OA and consult with a local Radiation Oncologist, visit Clearwater Radiation Oncology at or call 727-966-HOPE (4673) and ask for Dr. Rahul Bhandari. He will be happy to shed more light on how LDRT can better help you and your Osteoarthritis.

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