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Home » Plantar Fasciitis Surgery: When & Why

Plantar Fasciitis Surgery: When & Why

surgery for plantar fasciitis

Is Plantar Fasciitis surgery required? Lets explore what plantar fasciitis is first!

Plantar fasciitis can be a debilitating condition that affects your daily life by causing severe heel pain. It is a common condition among runners and people who stand for long hours. While conservative treatments like physical therapy and orthotic devices are effective in most cases, sometimes surgery is necessary to provide relief from the pain and discomfort.

In this post, we will dive into the world of plantar fasciitis surgery. We will cover everything you need to know about the surgical procedure, including the terminology used, when it becomes necessary, and who is an ideal candidate for it. We will also discuss the recovery process, potential risks and complications, long-term outlook, and alternative treatment options available. By reading this post, you will be better equipped to make an informed decision about whether plantar fasciitis surgery is right for you.

Understanding Plantar Fasciitis Surgery

Surgery is a viable option for chronic plantar fasciitis when conservative treatments have been exhausted. The goal of plantar fasciitis surgery is to release the tight plantar fascia ligament, which causes heel pain and inflammation. This can be done through open surgery or minimally invasive procedures involving small incisions or endoscopic techniques.

The surgical intervention aims to alleviate foot pain and promote full recovery. It is important to consult with a physical therapist and consider nonsurgical therapies first, but if these fail, surgery may be necessary. While there are potential risks and side effects, such as tenderness and the possibility of stress fractures or bone spurs, the benefits of surgery often outweigh them.

Decoding the Terminology: Fasciotomy vs Fasciectomy

When it comes to surgery, there are two primary procedures to consider: fasciotomy and fasciectomy. Fasciotomy involves releasing the plantar fascia ligament through small incisions, while fasciectomy removes a portion of the plantar fascia ligament. Both procedures aim to relieve pain and inflammation caused by plantar fasciitis. The choice between fasciotomy and fasciectomy depends on the severity of the condition, and your orthopedic surgeon will determine the best approach for your specific case. It’s important to understand the terminology surrounding these surgical options to make an informed decision about your treatment.

The Need for Plantar Fasciitis Surgery

When conservative treatments fail to provide relief from chronic plantar fasciitis that hampers daily activities, surgery becomes necessary. Severely damaged plantar fascia ligaments may require surgical intervention to alleviate pain, inflammation, and discomfort. It is important to discuss surgical options with your orthopedic surgeon for an informed decision. Surgery typically aims to release the plantar fascia ligament through small incisions or endoscopic procedures, resulting in less pain and a full recovery. By exploring surgical options, individuals can find relief from foot pain and regain mobility.

If you suffer from plantar fasciitis, treatment with nonsurgical methods can be successful in 95% of cases. However, if the condition is severe, surgery may be recommended to release the fascia and reduce tension. The most common surgery for plantar fasciitis is endoscopicplantar Fasciotomy (EPF).

red highlighted pain on heel for plantar fasciitis

Circumstances when Surgery becomes a Necessity

In some cases, surgery may become a necessary option for plantar fasciitis with heel spur formation. Despite trying conservative treatment measures, recurrent plantar fasciitis may persist and require surgical intervention. If the pain is severe and limits mobility, surgery may be considered to alleviate the discomfort. Long-term inflammation and instability of the plantar fascia ligament may also call for surgery as a potential solution. To determine if surgery is the right choice for you, consulting with an orthopedic surgeon is advised.

Identifying the Ideal Candidate for Plantar Fasciitis Surgery

Candidates for plantar fasciitis surgery are those who have not experienced relief from conservative treatments. Individuals with chronic pain and inflammation in the bottom of the foot may be considered ideal candidates. Your orthopedic surgeon will evaluate your medical history and the severity of your condition to determine if surgery is necessary. Factors such as foot mobility, arch anatomy, and the presence of heel spurs will also be taken into consideration. It is important to have an open discussion with your surgeon about the surgical procedure, recovery process, and expected outcomes.

The Surgical Procedure for Plantar Fasciitis

Preparing for surgery involves discussing medical history, medications, and anesthesia options. The plantar fascia ligament is released through small incisions or an endoscopic procedure during surgery. The aim of the surgical procedure is to alleviate pain, inflammation, and discomfort associated with plantar fasciitis. Your orthopedic surgeon may use ultrasound or an endoscope for visualization during surgery. Sutures are used to close the incisions, and the foot is typically immobilized with a walking boot.

Preparing for Surgery

Before undergoing plantar fasciitis surgery, it is crucial to adequately prepare. Start by providing your orthopedic surgeon with your medical history, including any medications or allergies you may have. Follow the pre-operative instructions provided by the surgical team, which may include fasting before the surgery. Discuss anesthesia options with the anesthesia team, such as general anesthesia or regional anesthesia. Inform the surgical team about any noninvasive treatments, physical therapy, or medication you have tried. Additionally, inquire about the recovery process, pain management, and the experience of the surgical team.

What Happens During the Surgery?

During plantar fasciitis surgery, the orthopedic surgeon releases the plantar fascia ligament through small incisions. They may use endoscopic plantar fasciotomy for visualization and treatment. The goal is to relieve pain, inflammation, and discomfort by carefully dissecting and stretching the ligament while monitoring vitals and anesthesia.

physical therapy for plantar fasciitis

Recovery from Plantar Fasciitis Surgery

Recovery from plantar fasciitis surgery can vary depending on several factors. These factors include the specific surgical procedure, the individual’s healing rate, and their adherence to post-operative instructions. The recovery period can range from several weeks to months, depending on the extent of the procedure. To aid in the recovery process and prevent recurrence, physical therapy, stretching exercises, and orthotics may be prescribed. It is crucial to follow the surgeon’s post-operative instructions, including any weight-bearing restrictions, medication usage, and wound care. Regular follow-up appointments with the orthopedic surgeon are also essential for monitoring the healing progress.

Factors Affecting Recovery Time

Various factors can impact the recovery time after plantar fasciitis surgery. The type of surgical procedure performed, such as open fasciotomy or endoscopic plantar fasciotomy, can influence the speed of recovery. Additionally, individual healing rates, foot mobility, and overall health play a significant role in the recovery process. Adhering to physical therapy, stretching exercises, and using orthotics can help expedite recovery. On the other hand, complications like infections, swelling, or issues related to anesthesia might prolong the recovery time. It’s essential to have discussions with your orthopedic surgeon about recovery expectations, potential complications, and strategies for a smoother recovery process.

Potential Risks and Complications of Plantar Fasciitis Surgery

It’s important to be aware of the potential risks and complications associated with plantar fasciitis surgery. Although complications are relatively rare, they can include infection, nerve damage, and prolonged pain, swelling, or discomfort after the surgery. Rarely, surgery may not provide the desired pain relief or could even worsen the condition. That’s why it’s crucial to have a thorough discussion with your orthopedic surgeon about the possible risks before proceeding with the surgery. Remember, open surgery or minimally invasive procedures like endoscopic plantar fasciotomy both carry some level of risk.

What is the Long-term Outlook after Plantar Fasciitis Surgery?

Long-term outlook after plantar fasciitis surgery is generally positive, with many patients experiencing pain relief and improved mobility. It may take several months for full benefits to be realized as the foot needs time to heal. Physical therapy and regular stretching exercises can optimize long-term outcomes. Follow-up appointments with an orthopedic surgeon are important for monitoring progress and addressing concerns.

Is Surgery Your Only Option?

Considering surgery for plantar fasciitis? Surgery is typically the last resort when noninvasive treatments like physical therapy, orthotics, and medication fail to provide relief. Your orthopedic surgeon will evaluate your medical history, symptoms, and treatment response before recommending surgery. Openly discuss your options with your healthcare provider.

Frequently Asked Questions

When is surgery necessary for treating plantar fasciitis?

Surgery for plantar fasciitis is considered when other treatments have failed. It may be necessary if the condition causes severe and prolonged pain and disability. Surgical options include releasing the plantar fascia or removing a heel spur. Recovery can take months with physical therapy.

What are the risks and benefits of plantar fasciitis surgery?

Risks of plantar fasciitis surgery include infection, nerve damage, and continued pain. On the other hand, the benefits of surgery include improved function and reduced pain. It’s important to note that surgery is typically considered a last resort after other treatments have failed. Consult with your doctor to determine if surgery is the best option for you.

What are the different types of surgical procedures available for treating plantar fasciitis?

Different types of surgical procedures for treating plantar fasciitis include plantar fasciotomy and gastrocnemius recession. Plantar fasciotomy involves cutting a portion of the plantar fascia to relieve tension, while gastrocnemius recession lengthens the calf muscle to reduce strain. These surgeries should be considered after non-surgical treatments have failed.


In conclusion, plantar fasciitis surgery should be considered as a last resort when all conservative treatment options have been exhausted. Surgery becomes a necessity in certain circumstances such as severe pain, inability to walk or perform daily activities, and failure to respond to non-surgical treatments. However, it is important to identify the ideal candidate for surgery based on factors like age, overall health, and lifestyle. The surgical procedure involves either a fasciotomy or fasciectomy, depending on the severity of the condition. Recovery time can vary depending on individual factors, and there are potential risks and complications to be aware of. It is important to discuss all options with your healthcare provider and explore non-surgical alternatives before considering plantar fasciitis surgery.

I hope you found this article helpful and please feel free to comment and/ or share.

Surgery is not an option to be taken lightly, therefore, I have provided further links if you want further information here.

If you decide to have surgery then I wish you a very speedy recovery.

Check out my other helpful blogs here.

Thanks for reading!

Tracy J. Founder, The heel GP

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