Plantar fasciitis is a common cause of heel pain. Recalcitrant plantar fasciitis can be difficult to manage. Medial gastrocnemius recession is increasingly being used to treat recalcitrant plantar fasciitis, with advocates describing fewer complications and quicker recovery time than other surgical options. This systematic review aimed to determine the effectiveness of gastrocnemius recession for the treatment of patients with recalcitrant plantar fasciitis. Multiple databases were searched using Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis guidelines. The level of evidence of each study was assessed according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Levels of Evidence. The level of bias for each study was assessed using the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Study Quality Assessment Tools. Seven studies were retrieved: 3 retrospective case series, 1 retrospective study that compared gastrocnemius recession to open plantar fasciotomy, 1 prospective cohort study (pre-post study with no control group), and 2 randomized controlled trials. All 6 studies that assessed pre- and postoperative pain using the Visual Analogue Scale showed a large reduction in pain postoperatively. Four studies that assessed pain at 12 months postoperatively showed a weighted mean of 76.06 ± 10.65% reduction in pain. No major complications were reported. Minor complications included sural neuritis. This review found a consistent reduction in pain following gastrocnemius release in patients with recalcitrant plantar fasciitis, suggesting it is a very promising treatment. However, the included studies are limited by low quality study designs and inherent biases, limiting the strength of recommendation. Further definitive, well-designed trials are required.
Level of Clinical Evidence
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Published online: November 01, 2021
Financial Disclosure: None reported.
Conflict of Interest: None reported.
© 2021 by the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons. All rights reserved.