Long-term outcome of open plantar fascia release

Alasdair MacInnes (Lead / Corresponding author), Sam C. Roberts, Jessica Kimpton, Anand Pillai

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    18 Citations (Scopus)


    BACKGROUND: Plantar fasciitis is thought to be a self-limiting condition best treated by conservative measures, but despite this many patients have a prolonged duration of symptoms and surgery may be indicated. Partial plantar fascial release is reported to have a short-term success rate of up to 80%, but anecdotally this was not thought to represent our local experience.

    METHODS: An audit of long-term patient-reported outcomes following open partial plantar fascia release was performed. A total of 30 patients (33 feet) were identified over a 10-year period and case notes were reviewed. Patients were contacted by letter and invited to complete 2 validated patient-reported outcome score questionnaires (Visual Analog Scale-Foot and Ankle [VAS-FA] and Manchester Oxford Foot Questionnaire [MOXFQ]). Responses were received from 24 patients (26 feet). The average ages were 42.4 (range 24-61) for male and 46.2 (range 33-60) for female patients, with a female/male ratio of 2.7:1. The average duration of treatment prior to operative intervention was 3.1 years (range 1-5). Preoperatively, our cohort underwent a range of conservative measures. All patients were reviewed postoperatively, and average time from surgery to completion of questionnaires was 80 months (range 14-130).

    RESULTS: The outcomes were worse in patients who had received preoperative steroid injections and this was found to be statistically significant. The mean MOXFQ score was 33.6 ± 3.9 (0-64). Mean VAS-FA score was 57.8 ± 4.9 (24-100).

    CONCLUSION: This study found a negative correlation between duration of follow-up and outcome, in both MOXFQ and VAS-FA, showing that patients continued to improve many years postoperatively. The authors also found worse outcomes with preoperative steroid injections, better outcomes in older patients, and a weak gender bias, suggesting results in men were better than those in women. A prolonged recovery period and generally poor outcomes leads the authors to suggest that open plantar fascia release is of questionable clinical value and that patients may improve in the natural course of the disease, in spite of surgery.

    LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Level III, comparative study.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)17-23
    Number of pages7
    JournalFoot and Ankle International
    Issue number1
    Early online date8 Sept 2015
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016


    • Adult
    • Age factors
    • Clinical audit
    • Fasciitis, Plantar
    • Female
    • Follow-up studies
    • Glucocorticoids
    • Humans
    • Injections
    • Male
    • Middle aged
    • Patient outcome assessment
    • Preoperative care
    • Retrospective studies
    • Sex factors
    • Surveys and questionnaires
    • Visual analog scale
    • Journal article


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