Mild cases of plantar fasciitis can generally be solved with changes in footwear, exercise, and the implementation of orthotic insoles. Because the condition is caused by a strain on the plantar fascia tissue that supports your arch, shock absorbing materials that relieve this stress generally do the trick. The tougher approach includes corticosteroid injections and extracorporeal shock, but for serious cases that don’t respond to any other treatments, plantar fasciitis surgery can be used as a last resort. It should be noted that this is generally only five percent of patients.
What Patients Qualify for Surgery?
While surgery is never recommended as a first line of defense against this ailment, general criteria for a surgical treatment include the following:
- The plantar fasciitis has been ongoing for at least nine months.
- The condition has not improved with the use of orthopedic insoles, injections, or change in exercise.
- The potential patient is in great pain and their daily life is compromised.
What are the Risks?
As with any other anesthetic procedure, plantar fasciitis surgery comes with the potential for side effects, a risk of infection, a rupture of the plantar fascia, nerve damage, and the possibility that the surgery is, in the end, ineffective. As you can tell, the associated risk means this treatment is really only ideal for those in extreme pain with no hope of recovery with traditional or natural options.
Nerve damage in the foot can be especially troublesome because it can lead to a greater difficulty walking, balancing, and degrade one’s quality of life in general. Physical therapy might even need to be attended after plantar fascia surgery to regain proper motor skills.
The Main Types of Surgery
One technique used is plantar fascia release. As can be inferred, this involves cutting the plantar fascia ligament as a way to relieve the tension and stress on the foot’s arch, and try to calm inflammation.
While the release method is by far the most common, some experts believe that heel spurs and certain nerves in the foot are actually the root cause of plantar fasciitis. As a result, some patients may also have a heel spur removed or a nerve “loosened” in combination with the plantar fascia release.
Recovery after Surgery
Following surgery, most patients are required to wear a foot brace to reduce the possibility of further strain or pressure on the foot. Because some of the arch-supporting tissue was disconnected, the patient’s balance and weight-bearing abilities are affected, and the boot will ensure the injury is given enough time to properly heal. During recovery time, limited to no exercise is also recommended (to relieve shock on the affected foot).
Luckily, plantar fasciitis rarely needs to be treated surgically as less extensive treatment options are effective in about 95 percent of the population. If you have just been diagnosed with this condition, don’t worry; there are plenty of effective options to try before resulting to intensive surgery, and chances are, an insole or a few changes in activity will provide a solution.