What is plantar fascia release surgery?

The plantar fascia is a thick, strong band of tissue that connects your heel to your toes. It holds up the arch of your foot and helps absorb shocks as you walk, run and move. Sometimes, your plantar fascia can swell up and feel very tight and painful. This results in a condition called plantar fasciitis.

In most cases, plantar fasciitis gets better after treatments that don't involve surgery. When that doesn't happen, doctors do plantar fascia release surgery. An orthopedic surgeon — a doctor who operates on bones, joints and tendons — or a podiatric surgeon cuts into your heel. They make small cuts in your plantar fascia. This relieves pain because it loosens the tight, swollen foot tissue.

What to expect from plantar fascia release surgery

When you get to the hospital, nurses prepare you for surgery. You change into a gown and go into the operating room. The doctor who gives anesthesia may put you fully asleep. Or, they may give you local anesthesia. This numbs your foot. You also get medicine to help you forget the procedure. The surgeon cleans your foot and does the surgery. In some cases, the doctor may be able to do the procedure without cutting your heel open and stitching it back up.

Doctors usually do fascia release surgery on an outpatient basis. You can go home the day you have surgery. It's common for people to wear splints or boots after this surgery. These devices keep your foot from moving. They also help your plantar fascia heal. After about two or three weeks, you can start putting your normal weight on your foot again. Your foot should heal in about 12 weeks.

Common conditions requiring treatment

Doctors do plantar fascia release surgery to ease the pain you experience from plantar fasciitis. Before you have this procedure, your doctor may want you to try non-surgical treatments to see if the pain gets better. These treatments include:

  • Wearing braces that keep your foot stable
  • Wearing special shoe inserts called orthotics
  • Doing stretches and exercises to strengthen your foot
  • Having injections of a medicine called cortisone to relieve swelling and pain
  • Doing therapy with a machine that uses gentle electrical waves to relax your plantar fascia

It's possible that these treatments may not work. Your plantar fasciitis might not go away. That's when you and your doctor can consider fascia release surgery.

Schedule an Appointment with an Orthopedic Specialist Near You

Mercy Health locations that can treat you