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.
I’ve been through all the options and surgery and nothing has helped. Now I’m going back to the dr for possible more surgery. I’m really scared I don’t know what to do.
I go to shoe stores and try on multiple shoes to find the perfect ones, you can wrap your feet with 3m bandages- same ones used on horses. Make sure your orthotics fit perfect too. Lyrica can be useful also
Did you have the endoscopic release or open instep procedure? I’m thinking about surgery but hesitant still. I’ve had PF for 3.5 years now. It’s very frustrating!
What did you end up doing?
I’ve had 3 surgeries. My last was August 2017 & this one did me in!
I’m still walking with a limp (walking on the ball of my foot or tipped toed). My Dr cut a nerve to make the one area numb so I would feel the pain again. Well I feel it & it’s pins & needles 24/7 now. I’m now going to a specialist instead of a podiatrist & having a hard time bc who wants to try to fix something that another Dr messed up 3 times? It’s risky for another Dr to want to cut me open for a forth time. I had 2 bone spurs that were NOT removed until I developed Tarsal Tunnel. They had to go back in bc there was a nerve trapped in scar tissue, then he decided to remove them. I have Osteoarthritis in all my joints, & Fibromyalgia for 10 yeasts now & a bad foot on top of all of this. I was a very avid gymnast in my day, a good athlete & I was a very hard worker that required heavy lifting & being on my feet a lot. I’m going to have to have hip replacements someday but I’m to young now. I would never recommend surgery unless you go to a “Foot Specialist”. It’s such bad pain having to live with Planters. God Bless you! 🙏🏽
Your story impacted me. I am 44 and understand you. I had the surgery but feel the same. They did remove the spur and I dont feel the nerve entrapment anymore, well sometimes i do. Not sure why. Doctor says its inflammation… not sure. Would like to know how are you doing nkw?
Kim, I have prayed for the 100 percent healing of your prolonged foot pain. In Jesus name.
Has anyone heard of Topaz Coblation? What i know is its a less evasive plantar fascia surgery that leaves the PF more intact and functioning as it suppose to. If anyone has had it or knows someone please comment on results. Down the road especially like 6 months to year and even further down if possible.
I had it 4 days ago… It was a very easy surgery, zero pain. Was walking in a boot no problem the next day.
My husband had broken his heel in 4 places, it has been now almost 3 weeks, I know it will be a long recovery, my question is Why is he in so much pain? He tells me he feels like if someone is pulling something inside, Heat radiating up his foot into his leg. then a sudden jab, or sting that take him to the next level.. What can be wrong I am concerned, they only keep giving him more perks. and if he does not take them every 5 hours, he is in tears. I Never seen my husband cry.. Can anyone give me something to go on?
Went in Jan 22,2019 was to have tarsal tunnel release said I’d had Baxter’s nerve compression been in pain every since now I went to this dr as a second opinion since I went to another podiatrist he sent me to pain management and he swore it was my back not my foot had a shot in my back still hurts. Went to Dr #4 a orthopedic dr he pulls up the before mri and the after and tells me he did a plantar fascia release not a tarsal tunnel release my foot hurts from the ankle to my ball of my foot along with the top of my foot only thing I was told to do was stretching my achilles should help has anyone ever had this pain since surgery