In endoscopic plantar fasciotomy, the surgeon makes two small incisions to release the tight fascial band attached to the heel bone. This immediately eliminates the inflammation of the plantar fascia, and normal foot function can return. Because an endoscope is used, it is not necessary to make a large incision, and it is not necessary to remove the spur tissue in order to relieve the pain.
The procedure can be done using local anesthesia and generally takes about 15 minutes. Most patients are able to wear sneakers or soft shoes in three to five days and feel 80 to 90 percent improvement in three weeks. Athletes are able to return to competitive sports such as tennis or racquetball in about a month.
One of the biggest benefits of endoscopic plantar fasciotomy is that there is almost immediate relief of the condition, and people return to regular activities quickly rather than spending a lot of time on various other treatments. As a result, they spend less time off their feet, less time in surgical shoes and less time in after-care and disability compared to other procedures. Many patients prefer the month-long surgical recovery over a series of non-surgical steps that could take anywhere from six to 18 months before complete resolution of a patient's symptoms.
The small incisions (about one-quarter inch) in endoscopic plantar fasciotomy heal faster and result in less pain, returning a person to his or her regular activities quite rapidly and without pain. Infections are infrequent and the procedure is covered by most insurance plans.
After all conservative approaches are exhausted, endoscopic plantar fasciotomy often is the treatment of choice for many people and results in an exceptionally low incidence of people ever returning to their doctor with heel pain.
Steven Dribbon, D.P.M., is board-certified in foot and ankle surgery and a specialist in endoscopic plantar fasciotomy. He is section chief of the Division of Podiatry at Saint Peter's University Hospital in New Brunswick and a fellow of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. He also is a Diplomate of the American Board of Podiatric Surgery and consulting podiatric physician to the Rutgers University Athletic Department.
Dr. Dribbon can be reached at his office at 503 Raritan Avenue, Highland Park, by calling 732-572-0020 or his office at 1100 Westcott Dr Ste 303, Fleminginton, by calling 908-788-6449.
For information about Saint Peter's University Hospital, visit www.saintpetersuh.com,
or call 732-745-8600.