Treating benign conditions

Benign conditions

Radiotherapy may be used as an effective treatment to cure and relieve various benign conditions. When other treatments haven’t worked, radiotherapy can offer effective pain relief. It’s used to stop some conditions from getting worse. It can also improve or maintain your quality of life by delaying, or even preventing, the need for surgery or other invasive treatments.

Chapter 01

Conditions we treat

We treat various benign conditions with radiotherapy.

Dupuytren’s disease

Dupuytren’s disease, or Dupuytren’s contracture, affects the connective tissue in the palm of your hand. It starts as a nodule (lump) which can grow and develop into cords. These can tighten and pull on one or more fingers – usually the ring and little fingers – and cause them to become permanently bent.

You are more likely to have Dupuytren’s disease if there’s a family history of the condition or if:

  • You have injured your hand in the past
  • You have diabetes
  • You smoke or drink excessive alcohol

Some people with Dupuytren’s disease also have a similar condition, Ledderhose disease, that affects their feet.

What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of Dupuytren’s disease include lumps (nodules) and thickening in the palm of the hand, sometimes affecting the fingers as well. The fingers begin to bend towards the palm (this is known as a contracture). In some cases, a thick cord forms under the skin in the palm of the hand, and you may also have thickening on top of your knuckles (called Garrod’s pads).

Plantar fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is one of the most frequent causes of heel pain. It can happen when there’s a strain on the plantar fascia, the strong band of tissue stretching from the heel to the bones in the mid-foot. The plantar fascia supports the arch and acts as a shock-absorber.

Plantar fasciitis can be caused by repetitive stress (overuse) or generally putting too much pressure on the ligament, resulting in microscopic tears and inflammation. You’re more likely to have plantar fasciitis if you:

  • Run long distances, especially on hard surfaces
  • Take part in sports involving jumping, including dance
  • Are overweight
  • Spend a lot of time on your feet, especially on hard surfaces
  • Wear high heels

In many cases, it gets better by itself without treatment. You may be advised to change your footwear, rest your foot, and have some physiotherapy for at least 6-12 weeks to see if it improves.

What are the symptoms?

Plantar fasciitis can lead to tightness and a stabbing pain near the heel, making it difficult to walk or run. It’s usually worse after you’ve exercised.

Ledderhose disease

Ledderhose disease, or plantar fibromatosis, is thickening of the connective tissue in the sole of the foot along the plantar fascia that connects the toes to the heel bone. It can cause loss of function and pain.

Some people with Ledderhose disease also have a similar condition, Dupuytren’s disease, which affects their hands.

You’re more likely to have Ledderhose disease if there is a family history of the condition, or if you:

  • Have diabetes
  • Smoke
  • Drink excessive amounts of alcohol

What are the symptoms?

Ledderhose disease starts with hard, lumps (nodules) on the soles of your feet. Left untreated, it can cause tenderness and pain, especially when you walk.

Achilles tendonitis

Achilles tendonitis is inflammation in the Achilles tendon, which is at the back of the ankle, near the heel. It’s more likely to happen if you suddenly increase your exercise levels (doing too much, too soon).

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms include pain, stiffness and swelling in the back of your heel. It becomes worse when you exercise (and afterwards).

Chapter 02

What we offer

Radiotherapy can be used to treat many benign (non-cancerous) conditions. Working in partnership with leading consultants who specialise in low-dose radiotherapy treatments for non-cancerous conditions, we provide fast access to treatment across our centres.

What to expect

It’s a simple, safe and pain free treatment that has been proven to treat the symptoms, or prevent the progression, of several inflammatory and degenerative conditions. Providing pain relief and in some cases preventing or delaying the need for surgery or other invasive treatments. Our team of experts have extensive knowledge of treating benign conditions with radiotherapy. Before your treatment, you’ll be able to discuss what’s involved. Then we’ll design a personal treatment plan that fits around you.

Paying for your treatment

We’re recognised by most major private medical insurers and offer a range of self-payment options. 

Chapter 03

What does radiotherapy treatment involve?

Dupuytren’s disease

In the early stages, Dupuytren’s disease that is becoming progressively worse can be treated with low-dose radiotherapy. This can stop the lumps developing, reduce pain, and prevent a contracture forming.

The treatment works best while you can still fully straighten your fingers. It can also be used after surgery, to prevent your fingers contracting in the future. Radiotherapy reduces the likelihood of Dupuytren’s disease progressing by two-thirds. It also reduces the chance that you will need to have invasive surgery by two-thirds.

Treatment is usually carried out over 2 weeks, with the first week of treatment being given over five consecutive weekdays. The second week of treatment is given in the same way 2-3 months later. Each radiotherapy treatment takes less than a minute and is completely painless.

 

Ledderhose disease

Treatment with low-dose radiotherapy can help if the lumps are growing or are painful when you stand or walk. In four out of five people, radiotherapy significantly reduces the pain.

Treatment is usually carried out over two weeks, with the first week of treatment being given over five consecutive weekdays. The second week of treatment is given in the same way 2-3 months later. Each radiotherapy treatment takes less than a minute and is completely painless

 

At the beginning of the year I could hardly stand for 30 minutes without pain and now I’m power walking five miles three times a week! A GenesisCare patient treated for Ledderhose disease

Plantar fasciitis

If things don’t improve with changing footwear, resting and stretching exercises, and you’re still in pain when you walk or run, having very low-dose radiotherapy may be a good treatment option. It’s proved effective in around 8 out of 10 patients who have plantar fasciitis, even when other treatments have failed.

In most cases, treatment involves 6 sessions, 2-3 times a week, over 2-3 weeks.

 

Achilles tendonitis

Low-dose radiotherapy treatment is recommended when you’ve already tried physiotherapy, rest and changing your footwear but are still in pain when you walk or run. It can help around 8 out of 10 people, enabling them to walk – and even run – without pain.

Chapter 04

Are there side-effects?

Low-dose radiotherapy is painless, and the risk of side-effects is very low. It won’t make you feel dizzy or drowsy, although in some cases it can make people feel a bit tired.

The dose of radiation that you’ll receive for a benign condition is much lower than the dose given for cancer. It will be carefully calculated and precisely targeted to the treatment area. The risk of developing cancer as a result of this treatment is extremely low. In fact, there have been no documented cases.

Some people do experience minor skin problems in the treated area. These include:

  • Redness
  • Soreness
  • Dryness
  • In rare cases, the skin may crack, weep or swell up

In most cases, any side-effects will improve after a few weeks. A moisturising cream, such as E45, can help.

Around 10-15% of people experience long-term skin problems including dryness, thinning or hardened areas.

We will discuss any risks with you in detail before you start your treatment.

Chapter 05

Your questions answered

If you have any questions about your treatment, just give us a call. We’ll be able to discuss your condition in more detail, arrange for you to see a specialist, and answer any questions. You might find the answers to some of your questions below.

Can I still have treatment if I don’t have health insurance?

Yes. As well as being recognised by many major private medical insurers, we also offer a range of self-payment options.

Where can I get treatment?

Clinics are held regularly at our centres in Guildford, Nottingham and Windsor. You can then receive your radiotherapy treatment in any of our UK centres.

How soon can I begin treatment?

Most people can begin treatment within a week of contacting us.

Can I drive after my treatment?

Yes, as long as your ability to drive isn’t already affected by your condition.

Radiotherapy won’t make you feel drowsy, so it’s usually safe to drive. Your consultant will be able to advise you.

I truly believe radiotherapy has allowed me to enjoy my life to the full, and without pain. To me that is just wonderful! A GenesisCare patient treated for Dupuytren's disease