Plantar fasciitis surgery is an effective treatment option that’s designed to reverse the effects of plantar fasciitis. However, this type of surgery is not commonly used to treat this condition, with only about six percent of patients suffering from plantar fasciitis qualifying for this option. While the majority of patients with this diagnosis can fully recover with routine treatment, in rare cases surgery may be necessary.
When all Other Treatment Fails
This type of surgery is only considered after all other routine treatments have failed. Typically, initial treatment involves the use of orthotics, an effective method that can provide immediate pain relief. Other treatments include wearing a night splint and the use of anti-inflammatory medication. However, these methods can fail to minimize pain so more serious treatment may be needed in the form of extracorporeal shock therapy or monthly cortisone injections.
Are You a Candidate for Surgery?
Certain criteria must be met before surgery is a viable option. To start, the patient should have a case that’s serious enough to last for more than nine months. Exercises specifically designed to reduce symptoms should also be done on a daily basis without success before surgery is considered. Last of all, the patient must be made aware of the risks involved with surgery. While not considered a serious procedure, complications can arise during the healing period that will prolong recovery.
During the procedure, the surgeon will make an incision around the heel of the foot in order to cut along the ligament to relieve pressure. If damaged portions of the tendon need to be located endoscopic surgery may be necessary.
What is Endoscopic Surgery?
These days, endoscopic surgery can be the best option for this type of procedure. Using advanced techniques, the surgeon can easily cut into the tendon using a small camera to precisely locate the plantar fascia. However, some surgeons have shown concern regarding this method, in fear that endoscopic surgery can increase the risk of nerve damage. Because of this, most surgeons still prefer the traditional surgical procedure over endoscopic surgery.
What You Can Expect After Surgery
After the surgery is complete the patient will need to wear a brace or cast which will reduce weight on the heel, allowing the tissue to heal. It can take several weeks before the patient is able to bear weight, which can make mobility very limited. Usually, it takes three to four months for the patient to regain full activity in the foot.
Are There Any Risks Associated with Surgery?
There are many complications associated with this type of surgery. Unfortunately, the outcome of this procedure isn’t very predictable and can involve a variety of mild to severe complications, such as:
Just adjacent to the plantar fascia are dozens of small nerves. The presence of these nerves can complicate surgery. Unfortunately, these nerves can easily become damaged during surgery. Nerve damage is a common complaint among patients and causes numbness and pain in the area.
An Over-Release of the Tendon
During the procedure, the surgeon must be careful to release only thirty to fifty percent of the fascia. If more is released than necessary this can result in the loss of the arch of the foot.
Like with any surgery, there is always a risk of infection. Often, infections are caught in time and will require a round of antibiotics. However, in serious cases, additional surgery may be required in order to remove infected tissue.
Surgery Success Rate
While there is potential for mild and serious complications after surgery, approximately eighty percent of patients will find relief immediately following surgery.
As we mentioned earlier, most doctors will not the surgical treatment for plantar fasciitis, initially. Because this surgery is unpredictable, other, less invasive treatment methods are often recommended.
For starters, most physicians will prescribe:
- Plantar fasciitis inserts
- Plantar fasciitis brace
- Plantar fasciitis socks
Together, these devices can help to relieve pain and tension, and help to prevent that early morning pain that all plantar fasciitis sufferers dread. However, over a period of several months, if you have not found any relief, your doctor may determine that surgery is necessary.
So, is plantar fasciitis surgery worth it? In severe cases that have lasted over a period of several months, yes surgery can be worth the risk of complications. While the surgery’s success rate could be higher, the majority of patients experience excellent results after the healing period.
Keep in mind, every surgery comes with risks. The patient will need to consider the benefits of surgery and the slow recovery time before making a final decision. Most patients who undergo this procedure will experience a full recovery. If mobility complications arise during the healing process physical therapy may be needed in order to assist with regaining strength in the foot and improving mobility.