Approximately 95% of plantar fasciitis cases can be successfully treated without surgery. However, for the remaining 5% of cases that do not respond to more conservative treatment methods (like icing, stretches, orthotic inserts, and rest), surgery may be recommended by your doctor.
As with any major medical procedure, the decision to undergo surgery should be made after very careful consideration, and in collaboration with your doctor. At the end of the day, the very best advocate for your health is you!
Thorough research, as well as a hard look at the pros and cons of using surgery to treat heel spurs and plantar fasciitis, is the best way to ensure that you are making an informed decision–and the best decision for your health.
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons involved in surgery for plantar fasciitis.
Pros of Heel Pain Surgery
There are two major pros when it comes to plantar fasciitis surgery: options and success rate. If more conservative treatment methods have been exhausted, don’t despair! In the 5% of plantar fasciitis cases that don’t respond to other types of treatment, surgery offers new options and a high success rate.
Options for Severe Cases of Plantar Fasciitis
It’s a hopeless feeling to be out of options. And if treating plantar fasciitis using conservative treatment methods hasn’t eliminated or drastically reduced your pain level, it can be both frustrating and demoralizing. Thankfully, surgery provides options for these severe cases to successfully treat heel pain from plantar fasciitis.
Most experts agree that conservative methods of treatment should be consistently employed over the course of nine to twelve months–particularly the use of orthotics and exercises designed to treat plantar fasciitis. Before undergoing surgery, make sure to research your options thoroughly and understand all of the cons (see below!) associated with surgery.
High Success Rate
Plantar fasciitis surgery has lasting results and high success rates for most people who undergo the procedure. One study, conducted in 1993 by the Podiatry Hospital of Pittsburgh, found that 39 out of 40 patients who underwent surgery for plantar fasciitis, would recommend the same decision to others, even five years later.
Some methods are considered more effective than others within the medical and podiatric community, so be sure to discuss your options with your doctor, and recognize that there is not a “one size fits all” solution when it comes to surgery. Endoscopic surgery, in which a small camera is inserted through slits in the heel so that the surgeon can see and remove the injured portion of the plantar fascia, is often the first choice for doctors. However, it’s not the only choice. Ask questions about how much of the plantar fascia will be removed, whether any heel spurs will be removed, and why. The answers to these questions will help you understand why a particular procedure has been recommended for your unique case.
Cons of Heel Pain Surgery
As with any major medical procedure, surgery for plantar fasciitis and heel pain shouldn’t be taken lightly because of a few significant risks and potential complications. By educating yourself to prepare for potential risks and consulting with your doctor, you can make the very best choice for your unique situation.
The cost of plantar fasciitis surgery varies by your location, the type of insurance you have, and the specifics of your unique situation and medical case. But in general, costs are steep, and can easily reach upwards of $10,000.
Recovery time can be a serious con, since it may be six to 10 weeks before you are able to comfortably walk around without assistance, and three months before you’re able to resume more rigorous activity and exercise.
Depending on the type of surgery you elect, it may also be necessary to wear a cast or brace for several weeks to allow the tissue to heal. Depending on your job, family demands, and other considerations, this can be a serious consideration.
Risks and Complications of Heel Pain Surgery
While a full recovery is always the hope when it comes to surgery, and success rates are high, the potential risks and complications of plantar fasciitis surgery are real. Possible complications and risks include post-surgery infections if the wound is not properly cleaned and cared for. There is also the risk of arch reduction, meaning that it’s less able to bear impact and weight without injury even after healing from surgery.
Some patients report feeling numbness as a result of nerve damage during surgery, and a small percentage of patients find that surgery does not reduce or eliminate their heel pain. still recovery following plantar fascia surgery. It’s very important to discuss these risks with your orthopedic surgeon to decide if the procedure is right for you.
Given the risks, cost, and potential complications of plantar fasciitis surgery, most doctors recommend trying more conservative methods consistently for one year prior to electing surgery. Before you decide to undergo surgery, use the following natural treatment methods consistently:
- Religiously rest your feet twice a day for twenty minutes. While resting your feet, apply an ice pack to reduce inflammation. This can be extremely difficult for busy people, but rest is absolutely critical to healing!
- Commit to daily plantar fascia and heel stretching exercises. It might be hard to believe, but simple stretches designed specifically for plantar fasciitis can really reduce morning heel pain and daily heel pain and to promote eventual recovery.
- Commit to wearing specialized orthotic shoe inserts, every day, in all of your shoes. In more than than 9 out of 10 cases, Fascia-Bar technology has been shown to heal plantar fasciitis by realigning the injured plantar fascia ligament and cushioning the heel.
In rare cases that do not respond to the above natural treatments, your doctor may also recommend medications and cortisone injections as short-term aides.
No one wants to undergo surgery, but by exhausting natural options for healing, educating yourself about pros and cons, and consulting with your doctor to find the right method of treatment for your unique case, you’ll be ready to take advantage of the best option for you!
Commonly asked questions about heel pain surgery
In one study, 97.5% of patients who had heel pain surgery were happy with the procedure.
The cost of heel pain surgery will depend largely on how good your insurance coverage is. Without insurance, it ranges from $10,000 and up. If your insurance covers 90% of the surgery costs, that means you will be responsible for $1,000 or more.
Recovery time depends on the exact type and method of the procedure you and your surgeon choose. It normally takes 6-10 weeks before you are able to fully bear weight on your foot and walk without assistance, and 3-6 months before you can get back to your regular exercise routine and activities.
Plantar fasciitis surgery can be deemed necessary by your medical team, so most insurances will cover at least part of the cost of plantar fasciitis surgery. Be sure to look into your exact insurance plan: some require you to meet a deductible before they cover any expenses, and others will hold you responsible for a coinsurance percentage. Make sure you call your insurance company prior to your surgery and double-check that the facility and doctors you chose are in-network.