Heel Pain Surgery Introduction

Heel pain is one of the most common foot and ankle problems, affecting approximately 1 in 10 people at some point during their lifetime.

For many, rest, stretching and orthotic supports can resolve the problem. Our heel pain clinic is designed for people with intractable heel pain, which has persisted for several months and does not respond to these conservative measures.

“The initial assessment must be very accurate to ensure the treatment selected will be effective. We listen carefully to the patient – if they describe their heel pain as feeling like hot coal and their calf is extremely tight, we cannot expect shockwave therapy or injections to work. It would be like a boy Scout throwing a small bucket of water on a large fire.”

Matthew Solan, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, the London Foot and Ankle Centre

The next step in heel pain treatment for most people is extracorporeal shockwave therapy or injections, depending upon the type of heel pain you have. Your heel pain may be due to plantar fasciitis or to Achilles tendinopathy. However, a smaller group will require heel pain surgery in order to achieve effective treatment for plantar fasciitis or Achilles tendinopathy.

Who needs Heel Pain Surgery?

“If you imagine the lower leg like a rasher of bacon, the calf muscle has a rind. You can only stretch the bacon itself so far because the rind remains tight and limits flexibility. If we carefully cut the rind the rasher can be stretched further. In real life the gap in the “rind” fills with scar tissue – but the rind is then longer. Surgical calf stretching is a way of stretching the tight calf muscle in a very controlled way and allow release of strain from the affected heel area.”

Matthew Solan, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, the London Foot and Ankle Centre

Some people will require heel pain surgery because they have extremely tight calf muscles, which is the root cause of their heel pain.

If you have severely tight calf muscles, this pulls your heel upwards, into the same position your foot is in if you wear heels. This means that your tendons are constantly tightened and not able to relax and over time, this causes pain and damage.

How does it work?

Heel pain surgery is a procedure designed to release tight calf muscles and is known medically as gastrocnemius release. The procedure is a short operation, normally carried out as a day case, with the surgeon making a small incision behind the knee to access the calf muscle. The area where the cut is made quickly heals.

“Surgical calf stretching is a way of stretching the tight calf muscle in a very controlled way to allow release of strain from the affected heel area,” explains Mr Solan.

Patients are normally able to return home on the same day and resume normal activities within weeks.

How long will it take to recover?

If calf release surgery is your recommended treatment for heel pain, your surgery will be undertaken by consultant orthopaedic surgeon Mr Matthew Solan of the London Foot and Ankle Centre.

Mr Solan specialises in the treatment of intractable heel pain and is the most experienced UK surgeon in the calf release procedure, having undertaken and audited more than 100 cases and published in major international guides.

Meet Your Consultants

The Foot & Ankle Centre is still OPEN for foot and ankle treatments at St John & St Elizabeth Hospital in St John’s Wood
If you do not wish to visit a hospital, all of our Consultants are offering telephone and video consultations.
Call 0207 078 3800 or 0207 403 4162 to book an appointment – we are OPEN Monday to Friday from 9am to 3pm for bookings & queries