Purpose: Many patients attend orthopedic departments complaining of pain on the plantar aspect of the calcaneum. The symptoms may subside spontaneously, but often persist. Treatment is usually by local injection of a corticosteroid, orthopedic devices or other standard treatment. If these methods fail, X-ray treatment may be considered. The efficacy of radiotherapy of the calcaneal spur was evaluated.
Patients and methods: From April 1981 through December 1991, 18 patients with painful heel were irradiated mostly with the caesium or telecobalt unit, usually with a dose of 4 times 0.5 Gy. Among these patients, 12 could be followed up during a prolonged period on the basis of questionnaires.
Results: According to the categories of v. Pannewitz 17% of the patients were pain-free by the end of the treatment course, 22% showed marked improvement, 33% showed improvement and in 28% the pain was not influenced. Over an average of 41.5 months 58% of the patients reported freedom from pain.
Conclusions: Low-dose radiotherapy appears to relieve the painful heel syndrome in a high proportion of patients. The overall treatment risk appears to be very small. The mechanism of low-dose radiotherapy is unknown.