Plantar Fasciitis Surgery
Each year in the U.S., roughly 2 million people are treated for plantar fasciitis, a painful condition that causes pain on the bottom of the heel and sole of the foot. While some mild cases of plantar fasciitis can be treated with therapeutic exercise, oral pain relievers, cortisone injections and other noninvasive methods, many people require plantar fascia surgery to relieve their painful symptoms. Today’s surgical techniques offer long-lasting relief from pain that can make a big difference in your everyday activities and your overall quality of life. Here’s what you should know.
What is plantar fasciitis?
The plantar fascia is a long, fibrous band of tissue that extends from your heel across the bottom of your foot, attaching at the base of your toes. The band provides flexibility and movement for your foot as well as offering support for the midsection (or arch) of your foot. Sometimes, the plantar fascia becomes irritated and inflamed, resulting in pain, stiffness and burning sensations around the heel and across the bottom of your foot. Usually, these symptoms are much worse after a prolonged period of inactivity, such as when waking up in the morning. As you use your feet and your muscles and connective tissues “warm up,” painful sensations can subside, recurring again after another period of rest or inactivity.
What causes plantar fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis becomes much more common with age as your tissues lose some of their natural elasticity. People who subject their feet to lots of repetitive impacts, like runners and other athletes, are more likely to develop plantar fasciitis, and being overweight or obese also increases the risk. Anatomical differences like a very high arch or tight calf muscles can also contribute to inflammation and pain. While heel spurs (bony growths on the edge of the heel bone) were once considered a primary cause of plantar fasciitis, researchers now believe the spurs are caused by plantar fasciitis instead of the other way around. However, large spurs can increase irritation and inflammation in people with plantar fasciitis.
How is plantar fasciitis diagnosed?
Diagnosis begins with a review of your symptoms and your lifestyle and activities. Your doctor will examine your foot and check for tenderness around the heel and on the sole of your foot. Then, diagnostic imaging like X-rays or MRI may be ordered to confirm the diagnosis and to determine if surgery is a good option for relieving symptoms.
How will the doctor know if I need surgery?
Plantar fasciitis is initially treated conservatively, with stretching exercises, splints and pain relievers or injections. If you still have pain despite these treatments, you’re probably a good candidate for surgery. Before any surgery, the doctor will order diagnostic imaging and review your medical history to ensure the surgery is the most appropriate option for your needs.
How is plantar fasciitis surgery performed?
The goal of plantar fasciitis surgery (also called plantar fascia release surgery) is to relieve the tension on the plantar fascia so the bottom of the foot is more flexible and mobile and irritation and inflammation is relieved. Plantar fascia release surgery can be performed endoscopically using very small incisions and a special instrument equipped with a tiny camera, and it can also be performed using an open technique with a larger incision. The approach used in your surgery will be based on your anatomy and other factors. During the procedure, the doctor will make an partial incision in the plantar fascia to relieve tension in the tissues. In some cases, the heel bone can be smoothed to facilitate healing or remove a small piece of tissue. Then the incision will be closed. If you have a bone spur, it can also be removed during the surgery.
What is recovery like?
After surgery, you’ll be given a cast or brace to keep your foot stable during healing. Most people can resume normal activities in about three to six months, but strenuous activities like running or jumping should be avoided for about three months.
Discover what’s causing your foot pain.
Foot pain is very common, and it can make even simple movements like walking and climbing stairs extremely painful. If you have chronic foot pain, Franklin Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine can help. Take the next step toward feeling better: Call us at (615) 771-1116 and schedule an evaluation today.