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During the last few weeks I have been sharing with you about my experience with Plantar Fasciitis which has resulted in surgery and what steps I took to prepare for surgery. On January 13th I had 2 surgical procedures, a Plantar Fasciotomy and a Gastrocnemius Recession. Before having the surgery I did a lot of research online about the two procedures. I found tons of medical websites with information but what I was really looking for was someone’s personal experience with the procedures. There just really were not any sources online which detailed someone’s experience with having a Plantar Fasciotomy & Gastrocnemius Release. So, I am sharing my personal experience and all the details that the doctors won’t tell you.
**WARNING: This article contains graphic pictures of real life surgical incisions.**
If you are reading this you are probably considering having these procedures because you’ve most likely been receiving treatment for Plantar Fasciitis for some time. Most podiatrists will not discuss surgical procedures until you have been treated, unsuccessfully, for at least 9 to 12 months. In my situation, I had been living with Plantar Fasciitis for much longer than the requisite 9 to 12 months. I dealt with the pain and discomfort for at least 3 years before I finally broke down and went to see a Podiatrist. Over the next two years, the podiatrist treated my symptoms with a wide array of treatment options. I had numerous cortisone injections in my feet, wore air casts, walking boots, heel cups, custom orthotic insoles. I used creams and gels and took oral medicines. I went to physical therapy and did all the right exercises at home. Nothing was working for me so surgery was the next step.
Prior to your surgery you will be asked to be NPO, meaning “nothing by mouth”. This is to help prevent aspiration pneumonia. You may also be given chlorhexidine wipes to use on your foot and leg after bathing that morning.
The surgical procedure that I had was a “Medial Instep Plantar Fasciotomy” and a Gastrocnemius Recession. For more information on all the medical details of the surgery you can follow this link to Podiatry Today.
Typically this surgery is preformed on an outpatient basis. In my situation, the surgery was done so late in the day, due to an emergency that the doctor had to attend to, that the doctor decided to admit me and keep me overnight in the hospital to be able to control my pain.
When I awakened after surgery I was already in a cast and I had 2 lines coming out the top of my cast. These lines ran to an On-Q Pain Management Ball that you can read about here. This slowly released pain medicine directly into my incision.
The next day after surgery I was released to come home. I was instructed that I was not to put any weight on my foot. I have basically lived in my recliner for the past 2 weeks. I have had to keep my foot elevated on a couple pillows while sitting and sleeping. Not only does this help the swelling but it helps the pain as well.
Week 1 Follow Up
One week after my surgery I went back to the doctor for my first follow up appointment. My cast was removed and the lines to the On-Q Pain Ball was removed as well. I have a pretty strong stomach when it comes to blood and gore but I have to admit that I got a little queasy when the cast and bandages came off. The incision for the Plantar Fasciotomy was not healing well so the doctor decided to put me in a splint and bandages which would allow me to remove the bandages each day to apply medication to it to speed up the healing process.
Here’s what my leg looked like 1 week post surgery. The bloody line that you see curving down my leg is where the line laid for the On-Q ball and blood had leaked from my incisions and was underneath those lines.
I spent the second week after surgery in a splint with bandages wrapped around it. This allowed me to remove the bandages each day and apply Povidine to the incisions. During my first visit the doctor noted that the incisions were still “wet” and not healing fast enough which is why he did not put a hard cast back on.
During this second week I was still in quite a bit of pain. I continued to stay in my recliner with my foot elevated, except for trips to the bathroom. One of the main problems I had this week was muscle spasms. Because the surgery involved cutting of the muscles it is a common problem following these procedures. There was one day that my foot muscles had so many spasms I could not even keep my foot still. My mom was the one who changed my bandages and applied the Povidine to my foot each day and there were times she would be working on my foot and it would jerk out of her hand! Thankfully my doctor gave me a prescription for muscle relaxers to help with the spasms.
One other problem I experienced was my foot felt like it was burning. Along the outer edge of my foot and along the back of my heel I often felt like my foot was on fire! To ease the pain I would often alternate ice and heat packs on my foot.
Yesterday I went back for my second post-op appointment. Thankfully everything was healing much better.
I’m still continuing to have issues with swelling. The doctor recommended that I continue to keep my foot and leg elevated and continue to drink plenty of water and reduce salt.
I left yesterday’s appointment with a new hard cast.
The best thing about yesterday was I was able to go pick up a rented knee scooter at the local home health company yesterday. This scooter is going to make it much easier for me to be more mobile. The past two weeks I have used a walker and crutches to get around with. My good leg, arms, and hands are so sore from using the walker and crutches so I’m hoping this scooter makes things easier!
If you are considering a plantar fasciotomy be sure to check out my weekly updates here on the blog.