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Biomechanical Consequences of Total Plantar Fasciotomy

A Review of the Literature

Jo L. Tweed School of Health, The University of Northampton, Northampton, England.

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Mike R. Barnes Sports Medicine Department, University Hospitals of Leicester, Leicester General Hospital, Leicester, England.

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Mike J. Allen Sports Medicine Department, University Hospitals of Leicester, Leicester General Hospital, Leicester, England.

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Jackie A. Campbell School of Health, The University of Northampton, Northampton, England.

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Background: Plantar fascia release for chronic plantar fasciitis has provided excellent pain relief and rapid return to activities with few reported complications. Cadaveric studies have led to the identification of some potential postoperative problems, most commonly weakness of the medial longitudinal arch and pain in the lateral midfoot.

Methods: An electronic search was conducted of the MEDLINE, ScienceDirect, SportDiscus, EMBASE, CINAHL, Cochrane, and AMED databases. The keywords used to search these databases were plantar fasciotomy and medial longitudinal arch. Articles published between 1976 and 2008 were identified.

Results: Collectively, results of cadaveric studies suggested that plantar fasciotomy leads to loss of integrity of the medial longitudinal arch and that total plantar fasciotomy is more detrimental to foot structure than is partial fasciotomy. In vivo studies, although limited in number, concluded that although clinical outcomes were satisfactory, medial longitudinal arch height decreased and the center of pressure of the weightbearing foot was excessively medially deviated postoperatively.

Conclusions: Plantar fasciotomy, in particular total plantar fasciotomy, may lead to loss of stability of the medial longitudinal arch and abnormalities in gait, in particular an excessively pronated foot. Further in vivo studies on the long-term biomechanical effects of plantar fasciotomy are required. (J Am Podiatr Med Assoc 99(5): 422–430, 2009)

Corresponding author: Jo L. Tweed, BSc(Hons), School of Health, The University of Northampton, Park Campus, Boughton Green Rd, Northampton, NN2 7AL England. (E-mail: jo.tweed@northampton.ac.uk)