What Is a Plantar Fascia Release?

The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue that connects your heel bone to your toes. It helps support the overall shape of your foot, especially when standing. Irritation and scarring of the plantar fascia, known as plantar fasciitis, is one of the most common causes of heel pain.

Often there is no one event that triggers heel pain. It generally develops over time and can become extremely painful, especially with the first few steps in the morning. It is more common in women, those who walk a lot, and people who are overweight. Risk factors include your natural foot shape (flat or high arch), your activities (walking, running), and improper shoes.

Plantar fascia release is a surgical procedure that removes or releases the diseased portion of the tissue that is responsible for the pain. This is reserved for patients in severe pain who have exhausted non-surgical treatments. 


Non-surgical treatment of plantar fasciitis is almost always the first approach. This may involve activity modification, medications, injections, boots, braces, splints, orthotics, or a change in shoes. If these options fail to relieve your pain, your foot and ankle orthopaedic surgeon may recommend a plantar fascia release.


Plantar fascia release may be performed in a number of ways, including through an incision (also known as "open") or with a needle (also known as "endoscopic"). Each surgical method achieves the goal of relieving the tension on the damaged and painful portion of the tissue.


Patients typically go home the same day of their surgery. Your surgeon may place you in a splint, boot, or postoperative shoe. You may not be able to put weight on your foot after surgery. If you have sutures, they may be removed two weeks after surgery and then normal weight bearing can resume. 

Risks and Complications

All surgeries come with possible complications, including the risks associated with anesthesia, infection, damage to nerves and blood vessels, and bleeding or blood clots.

Will a plantar fascia release relieve my heel pain?

The majority of patients who undergo surgery will have decreased pain and improved function. On average, most patients will be able to return to normal weight bearing 2-3 weeks after surgery. Stretching, wearing comfortable shoes, and avoiding activities that cause pain are important to a successful recovery.


Original article by Jaymes Granata, MD
Contributors/Reviewers: Sudheer Reddy, MD; Jamal Ahmad, MD; Andrew Pao, MD

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