Gastrocnemius recession to treat isolated foot pain

Foot Ankle Int. 2010 Jan;31(1):19-23. doi: 10.3113/FAI.2010.0019.


Background: Gastrocnemius recession is performed to correct an isolated gastrocnemius equinus contracture of the ankle that may accompany foot and ankle pathology in the adult. It has been proposed that this equinus deformity leads to excessive strain throughout the foot, thus causing pain. This can manifest itself in the form of plantar fasciitis, metatarsalgia, posterior tibial tendon insufficiency, osteoarthritis, and foot ulcers. The purpose of this retrospective study was to review the efficacy of the gastrocnemius recession in providing pain relief for patients who have foot pain without structural abnormality who have failed conservative treatment and have an isolated gastrocnemius contracture.

Materials and methods: Twenty-nine patients (34 feet) who had chronic foot pain without any structural abnormality other than an isolated gastrocnemius contracture underwent a gastrocnemius recession and were available for follow up at an average of 19.5 (range, 7 to 44) months. The outcome measurements were related to pain relief (Visual Analog Scale) and patient satisfaction.

Results: Preoperatively the average pain score was 8/10 which improved postoperatively to 2/10. Twenty-seven patients (93.1%) said they would recommend this procedure for isolated foot pain to a friend. Twenty-seven patients (93.1%) said they were satisfied with the results of the procedure. Twenty-three of 25 patients (92%) who had a unilateral procedure stated they would have the contralateral leg done if needed.

Conclusion: Gastrocnemius recession was found to be an effective procedure when used to relieve recalcitrant foot pain in those patients with an isolated gastrocnemius contracture without deformity.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Equinus Deformity / physiopathology
  • Equinus Deformity / surgery*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiopathology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / surgery*
  • Pain / physiopathology
  • Pain / surgery*
  • Pain Measurement*
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Retrospective Studies