Plantar fasciitis is a condition characterized by swelling and irritation of the thick tissue, known as the plantar fascia, located on the bottom of the foot. Plantar fasciitis surgery is not necessary for most patients, but those who do not respond to less invasive treatments may consider a surgical procedure known as plantar fascia release.
Why is it Performed?
Surgery may only be necessary for about five percent of patients. Surgery is generally recommended for patients for the following reasons:
- The patient’s symptoms have lasted for six to 12 months, even with other treatments.
- Despite other treatments, the patient’s ability to work is limited.
- The patient has disabling, severe symptoms, despite other treatment and careful attention.
- The patient is an athlete, and this condition is affecting his or her performance or ability to play in a reasonable athletic program.
The patient will be administered an anesthetic prior to plantar fasciitis surgery. Once this is done, the doctor will begin by making an incision above the heel pad or on the bottom of the foot. An incision will be made on each side of the foot under the ankle, if the patient needs endoscopic surgery.
The plantar fascia is detached, or incisions are made to release tension. The bone surface may be smoothed and removed, to allow for healing under less pressure. In some cases, a small piece of damaged tissue is removed. Any heel spurs may also be removed.
Patients who have a traditional plantar fasciitis surgery may have to wear a non-weight-bearing brace or cast for up to three weeks following their surgery, to allow for healing.
Patients who had endoscopic surgery are able to start applying some weight to the foot right away and wear normal shoes as soon as they feel comfortable doing so. They can return to their normal activity schedule in about three to six weeks.
After surgery, patients will gradually work on flexibility and strengthening. For at least three months, jumping and running are restricted.
The majority of patients report a reduction in pain after they recover from plantar fasciitis surgery.
Before having plantar fasciitis surgery ,all patients should familiarize themselves with the risks. They include:
- Tarsal tunnel syndrome or nerve entrapment
- Neuroma: a type of benign tumor comprised of nerve fibers and nerve cells
- Inability to return to normal activities at the planned time
- Anesthesia-related risks
- Recurring heel pain
- Delayed wound healing
- Worsening symptoms after having the surgery
Endoscopic surgery for plantar fasciitis generally offers a shorter recovery time, but the risk of nerve damage is higher. The surgical technique is also more complicated, so it is important to find a well-trained surgeon for this procedure.
PubMed Health. (2010). Plantar Fasciitis. Retrieved on April 14, 2011 from PubMed Health: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0004438/
WebMD. (2009). Plantar Fasciitis Surgery. Retrieved on April 14, 2011 from WebMD: https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/plantar-fasciitis-surgery
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