Fasciitis Surgery - An Overview
Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of foot
pain but there are several treatment options that give
relief from the symptoms. Most cases of the condition
can be relieved with conservative treatment methods
that include rest, ice packs, anti-inflammatory medications,
orthotics, correct footwear and splints. However, in
a few cases, these treatments are not effective or only
give short-term relief; these are the patients who are
faced with the option of plantar fascia surgery.
The most common surgical procedure used in the treatment
of plantar fasciitis is the plantar fascia release procedure.
The surgeon cuts part of the plantar fascia ligament
to relieve the accumulated tension in the tissue. If
a heel spur is discovered during surgery, which is a
common side-effect of plantar fasciitis, this will probably
be removed at this time.
Newer surgical treatments include endoscopic release
of the plantar fascia, a less-invasive procedure; ultrasound
guided fasciotomy; coblation surgery, also called the
topaz technique, which uses radio frequency ablation.
There are advantages and disadvantages with plantar
fasciitis treatment surgery; unfortunately, the disadvantages
seem to outweigh the advantages. This is why surgery
is reserved as a last resort treatment, only being considered
when all else has failed to relieve the painful symptoms
of the condition. As with any invasive surgical procedure,
there are risks associated with it as well as the major
disadvantage that the results may only being temporary.
There are certain criteria that will have to be met
before plantar fascia surgery will be considered. These
- The seriousness and time frame of the patient's
condition – non-surgical treatments have to
have been tried consistently for a period of 12 months.
- Specific plantar fasciitis exercises and stretches
will have been incorporated into the patient's lifestyle
for several months, failing to produce the desired
- The patient is fully aware of the potential risks,
limitations, side effects and complications with the
surgical treatment option for plantar fasciitis.
We have said previously that the disadvantages outweigh
the advantages of plantar fascia surgery. The main advantage
with the surgery is that it is a final attempt at finding
a cure for this painful condition. However, the reality
is that, while some patients achieve this goal, the
majority find they only get short-lived relief, if at
all, with the painful symptoms returning after a few
Some of the disadvantages of plantar fascia surgery
- The prognosis of surgery is poor with surgeons not
able to give a very high probability of success.
- While no ill-effects might be experienced, no positive
results are achieved either, with the pain of plantar
fasciitis continuing after surgery.
- If the plantar fascia is released too far, the arch
of the foot can be reduced, bringing a new set of
- If nerves are inadvertently damaged during surgery,
numbness and loss of feeling in the foot can result.
- There is the potential for infection.
- In some cases, when symptoms recur, they are more
severe than they were prior to the surgery.
Post-operative care is vital to the success of plantar
fascia surgery. A brace or a cast may be required to
be worn for a prescribed time following surgery; this
helps to support the heel while allowing the tissues
to heal properly. Rest will be necessary and it could
be three or four weeks before you can put any weight
on the foot, with complete recovery and full activity
taking several months.
Of the 5% of all plantar fasciitis sufferers who undergo
plantar fascia surgery, around 70% to 80% will get relief
from their symptoms after the surgery. While this may
not necessarily be a permanent result, many would agree
that even temporary pain relief, after 12 months of
pain and disruption of lifestyle, is worth the risks
associated with the surgery.