Plantar Fascia Release

What is the plantar fascia?

The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue that connects your heel bone to your toes. It helps support the overall shape of your foot, especially when standing. Irritation and scarring of the plantar fascia, known as plantar fasciitis, is one of the most common causes of heel pain.
 
Often there is no one event that triggers heel pain. It generally develops over time and can become extremely painful, especially with the first few steps in the morning. It is more common in women, those who walk a lot and people who are overweight. Risk factors include your natural foot shape (flat or high arch), your activities (walking, running) and improper shoewear.
 

What are the goals of a plantar fascia release?

Plantar fascia release is a surgical procedure that removes or releases the diseased portion of the tissue that is responsible for the pain. This is reserved for patients who have severe pain and have failed other treatments.
 

What signs indicate surgery may be needed?

Conservative (non-operative) treatment is almost always the first approach. This may involve activity modification, medications, injections, boots, braces, splints, orthotics and a change in shoewear. If these options fail, you may have a conversation with your physician regarding surgery.


General Details of Procedure

The procedure may be performed in a number of ways, including through an incision or with a needle. Each surgical method achieves the goal of relieving the tension on the damaged and painful portion of the tissue.
 

What happens after surgery?

Patients typically go home the same day of their surgery. Your physician may place you in a splint, boot or postoperative shoe. You may have restrictions on your weight-bearing after surgery. If you have sutures, they may be removed two weeks after surgery and then normal weight bearing can resume. 
 

Potential Complications

There are complications that relate to surgery in general. These include the risks associated with anesthesia, infection, damage to nerves and blood vessels, and bleeding or blood clots.
 

Frequently Asked Questions

How successful is plantar fascia release surgery?
The majority of patients who undergo surgery will have decreased pain and improved function. On average most patients will be able to return to normal weight bearing two to three weeks after surgery. Continued stretching, good footwear and avoiding activities that cause pain are important to a successful recovery.
 

The American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (AOFAS) offers information on this site as an educational service. The content of FootCareMD, including text, images and graphics, is for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnoses or treatments. If you need medical advice, use the "Find an Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Surgeon" tool at the top of this page or contact your primary doctor.