Plantar fasciitis: how successful is surgical intervention?

Foot Ankle Int. 1999 Dec;20(12):803-7. doi: 10.1177/107110079902001209.


Forty-three patients (47 heels) underwent decompression of the nerve to abductor digiti minimi with partial plantar fascia release for intractable plantar fasciitis over a 4-year period. Forty-one patients (45 heels) were available for follow-up. All of the patients had failed to respond to nonoperative treatment. The mean duration of symptoms before surgery was 34.8 months (range, 12-132 months), and the mean follow-up was 31.4 months (range, 11-66 months). Seventy percent of the patients in the study were overweight or obese. Before surgery, 39 patients (43 heels) rated their heel pain as severe. At follow-up, 34 of 45 (75.6%) of the heels were pain-free or only mildly painful. The mean visual analogue pain score dropped from 8.5 of 10 preoperatively to 2.5 of 10 postoperatively. Only four patients failed to report an improvement in their activity restrictions, and only one patient had a walking distance of under 100 m after surgery; this patient had been affected by a reflex sympathetic dystrophy. Overall, however, only 20 of 41 patients were totally satisfied with the outcome (48.8%). We recommend that the small group of patients who fail to respond to nonoperative treatment be considered for surgical intervention. The results in terms of symptomatic relief are generally good but in terms of patient satisfaction can only be rated as moderate. The patients should be counseled about the likely outcome of surgery.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Decompression, Surgical* / methods
  • Fasciitis / complications
  • Fasciitis / surgery*
  • Fasciitis / therapy
  • Fasciotomy*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Foot Diseases / complications
  • Foot Diseases / surgery*
  • Foot Diseases / therapy
  • Heel
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / etiology
  • Pain / surgery
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Peripheral Nerves* / surgery
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Walking