Heel Pain is a primary cause of foot pain, and there are several different approaches that can be applied to reduce pain symptoms and inflammation. A majority of cases benefit from the application of non-invasive treatment methods such as rest, ice, the use of NSAIDS, the use of orthotic devices, improved footwear, and specialized stretching exercises.
There are stubborn cases that only respond to non-invasive treatments in the short term however, and these are the patients that may be candidates for heel pain surgery.
What Does Surgery Involve?
The plantar fascia release procedure is the primary surgery performed to relieve this condition, and it involves making a cut in the plantar fascia ligament in order to reduce tension. Heel spurs may also be removed during this procedure as well; they are a common side effect of plantar fasciitis.
There have been new developments in the operating room however, and plantar fasciitis surgery may now include less invasive techniques such as:
• Endoscopic plantar fasciotomy
• Ultrasound guided fasciotomy
• Coblation surgery (topaz technique)
Like any other treatment option there are pros and cons to having surgery, unfortunately, when it comes to plantar fasciitis surgery is usually a last resort because the rate of failure outweighs the rate of long term success. The biggest problem with plantar fasciitis surgery is that it is an invasive surgery with risks involved, but the benefits are often only temporary.
Candidates are heavily vetted before surgery is considered and specific criteria are evaluated before surgery is approved. The following conditions are usually a prerequisite form plantar fasciitis surgery:
• Levels of pain and deformation must be significant.
• Non-surgical treatments must be consistently applied for one year.
• Specialized stretches and exercises must have been introduced and performed to no effect for several months.
• The patient must be cognizant of all risks, side effects and complications involved with plantar fasciitis surgery.
• The patient must be cognizant of the limited success rate of the surgery and the potential for the condition to return.
Because it is an invasive procedure that provides uncertain and unstable results plantar fasciitis surgery is used only as a last resort for the sake of pain management, and even that is not guaranteed.
These are some of the disadvantages of having plantar fasciitis surgery:
• The outlook for post-surgery success is dim and the chances of the condition returning are very high.
• If the plantar fascia is loosened too much the arch of the foot may be flatter than before, which can cause new problems to occur.
• Nerves may accidently be damaged during the surgery, resulting in numbness and reduced sensation in the foot.
• Infection may occur.
• When symptoms recur they are sometimes more severe than they were pre-surgery.
Your level of post-op care and will make a significant difference in the success rate of your surgery. Recovery from plantar fasciitis surgery may require the use of a brace or a cast to help support the foot and heel while the body is healing. You will be required to rest and will have to refrain from weight bearing activities for three or four weeks after surgery. Full recovery and a return to your usual activities will likely be prolonged for several months.
Only 5% of patients suffering from plantar fasciitis undergo surgery, and 70-80% of these candidates experience relief from pain and debilitation afterward. While the results of plantar fasciitis surgery are usually not permanent some people are grateful for the respite after dealing with the pain and disability for at least one year.