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Severe or advanced cases of plantar fasciitis only rarely require surgical treatment. Some of the conditions where surgical intervention may become inevitable include the following:

  • when an injury is left untreated
  • in the minority of cases for which conservative treatment or regenerative medicine treatments are ineffective and damage accumulates
  • when injuries in the plantar fascia have progressed to a point where there is an accumulation of tension in the ligament that causes its gradual degeneration. 

The surgical procedure for plantar fasciitis is called Plantar Fascia Release. As its name suggests, the main goal of Plantar Fascia Release surgery is to release the tension on the plantar fascia. The goal is to restore the foot’s flexibility and relieve pain.

Plantar fasciitis surgical procedures

The procedure for Plantar Fascia Release involves making small cuts in a fraction of the fibers that make up the plantar fascia. This is done in order to relieve tension and stress in the ligament.

Plantar Fascia Release can be performed via either open surgery or endoscopic surgery:

  • In open surgery, a small area in the bottom of the foot is cut to give access to the plantar fascia to allow your surgeon to see it.
  • In endoscopic surgery, only very small incisions are made to insert an instrument equipped with a micro camera that allows the visualization of the ligament and the release of the plantar fascia.

Endoscopic surgery is usually preferred due to the shorter recovery time, but the choice of open or endoscopic surgery may depend on your anatomical and clinical characteristics.

In some advanced cases of plantar fasciitis, heel spurs may develop. When that is the case, they can also be removed during the surgery. When necessary, damaged tissues or a small portion of the heel bone may also be removed to reduce tension and stimulate healing.

Plantar fasciitis surgery recovery

If you undergo open surgery, you will need to wear a cast or brace for the first two or three weeks of recovery to keep your foot stable. This also minimizes the pressure on the heel and foot and allows the tissues to heal. Recovery time for open plantar fasciitis surgery is usually between six to ten weeks. At this point, you should be able to walk without assistance.

If you undergo endoscopic surgery, since only small incisions will have been made, you will not need a cast. In fact, you can go back to wearing shoes whenever you feel comfortable doing so. Recovery time is shorter, with most patients being able to walk normally after three to six weeks.

In both cases, full recovery and the return to high-impact activities and exercises like running or jumping may take around three months. During the recovery period, healing will also be promoted with foot strengthening stretching exercises.

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Plantar fasciitis surgery success rate

Plantar Fasciitis Release is successful in relieving heel pain in the majority of patients.

Complications of plantar fasciitis surgery

As with any surgery, there is always a risk of complications and it is important that you are fully aware of what may happen.

Possible complications of plantar fascia release include:

  • Infection

A small risk of infection exists in any surgery, particularly if the wound is not appropriately cleaned. Infections that are detected early can be easily resolved with antibiotics.

  • Nerve damage

There is also always a risk of nerve damage in any surgery. If damage to the nerves surrounding the fascia occurs during the procedure, you may develop numbness, weakness or tingling in your foot.

  • Excessive release

A specific and unlikely complication of this procedure is an excessive release of the plantar fascia. This can greatly reduce the height of the foot arch, which will increase the likelihood of further foot injuries.

  • Unresolved symptoms

In some cases, the surgery may not be successful and symptoms may persist.

Before considering surgery

Plantar Fascia Release is an invasive procedure. It should be considered as an option only in very severe cases that can not be resolved with conservative treatments. Around 95% of plantar fasciitis patients are able to recover with non-invasive treatment options within a few months. Surgery should be your last resort.

There are many options for the conservative management of plantar fasciitis, including,

  • rest
  • stretching exercises
  • ice massage
  • deep tissues massage
  • over-the-counter or custom-made orthotics
  • night splints

There are also additional alternative therapeutic options with good results in plantar fasciitis that you may also consider, including extracorporeal shock wave therapy and ultrasound-guided platelet-rich plasma injections.

Before you consider Plantar Fascia Release surgery, be sure you have exhausted all other possibilities.


Related content: 6 Standing Desk Tips That Help You Avoid Pain

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Originally published September 23, 2018, this post has been updated for republication.

26 COMMENTS

  1. I have been working with this diagnosis for a couple of months and went from a boot, to stretching/icing, to a night boot, and now over the last month and a half having 3 cortisone shots in my heel. It has improved, but still bothers me even with proper footwear. Am I headed in the direction of surgery? I’d prefer to avoid it.

  2. I am two days out of surgery. I will not be putting weight on my foot for 2 weeks. I have post pics in 4 days and will report back. Day 2 was hard but meds helped. Hoping for the best.

  3. Im having surgery soon mine went away and came back with a vengeance and I now also have a stress fracture in my heel. I am worried because I can only take off so much time from work and it’s the bare minimum. My doctor said I only 2 weeks of work for recovery. I’ve been fighting this for a year. I only finally decided because the pain has gotten so I bad I wake up in pain.

    • You will definitely need more than 2 weeks if u have a stand up job. I am 4 months out and have worse pain now then before surgery I can only stand for about 3 hours and cant walk after a 8 hour day on my feet I’m against the surgery since it did nothing for me but I’m only one person.

  4. A dear friend is suffering from a Plantar Fasciitis tear. She injured it a few years ago training for the NYC marathon. Eventually she had surgery and it was successful – her symptoms disappeared. Last year she re-injured her foot and now she’s in more pain than ever and also have fallen into a deep depression. She has spoken to a few surgeons and most have recommended NOT having another surgery. She found one willing to do but he says the surgery may not work and may maybe even worsen her symptoms. Pain killers don’t work and she’s at the end of her rope and losing hope that she can ever have a normal life again. Any suggestions? She really needs help. Thank you.

    • Hi RK, I have notified Dr. Pearl of your comment and requested a reply. I am so sorry to learn of your friend’s suffering. I hope she is able to find some relief. Not sure how relevant this is but I also had terrible plantar fasciitis a few years ago. I was lucky though. The PT that I saw did a very (I mean very) deep massage of my calf muscle and I got almost full relief before leaving her office. Of course, I had not had prior surgery so not sure if this would be helpful in your friend’s case.

  5. I am 22 months post-op from this surgery. I suffered over 20 years prior to the subject of surgery ever parting the lips of my dr. I fully agree that it should be a last resort. That being said, on any given day, I am 95% pain free. For me it was a success. When I do have pain, it stems from lack of proper footwear for the given activity or a combination of that and excessively engaging in the activity without the proper footwear. After about 12 months I noticed that my foot felt weird. After process of elimination, I discovered that my orthotics were the culprit. I did not need the any more.

  6. Ugh I’m scheduled for surgery on the 30th of this month , now I’m concerned whether to do it or not after reading some reviews . I’ve had this problem for years , throbbing pain most of the time hopefully if I get the surgery I won’t have bad results!

  7. I am 5 mons. post op. Still in pain, have a scar tissue fibroma, entrapped nerve, plantar fascia is back. The doctor wants to repeat the surgery. I am thinking not.

  8. i am 23 and ive been dealing with plantar fascittis for 3 years. it started in my left foot and has transferred to my right footand is starting up into my knee and my hip. i have done everything my doctor has told me to do. orthodics, night splints, exercises, ect. my last choice is surgery. my doctor say they will do plantar release and also bone graphs to turn my ankle down and in. after surgery it will be three months non-weight bearing. the only other choice is finding another job that i am not on my feet for 10 hours on concrete. but if i lose insurance and still need the surgery i dont know what i will do. i am so on the fence about surgery but im running out of time and im terrified of my future with this deformity. please help with suggestions.

    • I’m 6 weeks out and I’m walking in a non weight bearing cast boot with no assistance. I can walk for about 3 hours then I’m done and have throbbing pain afterwards . I would recommend the surgery to anyone due to the fact that my plantar pain is gone and my doctor told me I need the whole 3 months to heal maybe 4. my pain is from the other work I had done on my nerves. your young and will heal fast I’m only one person but I would say get it done.

    • I am three days out from arthroscopic plantar fascia release, and I’m already pain free and walking well in a walking boot. I took only Tylenol post-op, and iced and elevated my foot for the first two days. I have no numbness at all, and expect to make a complete recovery, even though my doctor said I had one of the worst cases he had ever seen on the MRI. I believe the key is good diagnostics (MRI) and a great and experienced doctor ( Dr. J. Allbright). No one should have to suffer for months or years with this treatable condition.

  9. I had open plantar fasciitis surgery a month ago also having 5 verclose veins removed and a main nerve repaired. I still have no feeling in my foot at all but am just barely able to walk with walking cast boot. I will say it has been very painful and you need lyrica for the nerve pain but my doctor has been amazing and tells me I still have a long recovery since I had so much done at once. I’m sure this didn’t help anyone just wanted to let people know to please take care of foot pain early because this surgery is no joke.

  10. I tried everything doctor told me to do before my surgery. Night splints, Orthopedic soles, orthopedic shoes, deep penetration oils and lotions, and foot stretches. A very painful 7 months. Some days at work at felt like pain level of 8 to 9. I had the plantars fasciitis release surgery. And I was off work for 6 weeks. Pain level is at a 5 to 6 after the surgery but it doesn’t seem like it’s healing after 6 weeks at work. So doctor put me off work for another 4 weeks and physical therapy. At work I’m on my feet all day. So at this point I need to let it heal. Correct

    • it takes 3 months of non weight bearing to heal that’s from my doctor I’m 6 weeks out of surgery and can walk in boot for hours with no pain on plantar fasciitis. take your time let it heal.

  11. I had surgery 8 months ago , and the pain is worse now after surgery than it was before hand and i done wverything doctors and physio’s told me to do , i went back to docs to be told my plancter fasciitis is back again .i would not recommend getting this surgery.

  12. Nice article about surgery of plantar fasciitis surgery. But the surgery is rarely needed, as you mentioned. Most of the cases are amenable to footwear change, drugs and exercises.

  13. Even though it has been years since I had the plantar fasciitis surgery done I am now having issues with balance standing on one foot is damn near impossible they tell me to keep working on it and even use a balance pad but it’s hard and it’s painful so good luck on getting your balance back

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