Gastrocnemius recession is a procedure that lengthens the muscles and tendons at the back of the leg, relieving tightness in these structures. This allows the heel to shift downward into a more natural position. Gastrocnemius recession surgery is used to treat conditions such as flatfoot, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, and equinus (toe walking).
What You Need To Know About Gastrocnemius Recession
What is Gastrocnemius Recession?
Gastrocnemius recession is an outpatient procedure that treats conditions such as plantar fasciitis, flatfoot, chronic Achilles tendonitis, or equinus (toe walking). Gastrocnemius recession lengthens the complex of muscles and tendons at the back of the leg, which relieves the tension that gives rise to these conditions.
Why is Gastrocnemius Recession Performed?
The calf is made up of two muscles, the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles. The gastrocnemius and soleus join at the base of the heel to form the Achilles tendon. When the gastrocnemius muscle is too tight, it can lead to a host of conditions.
Complications related to overly tight gastrocnemius muscles include:
Lower-back pain or strain
Knee hyperextension (genu recurvatum),
If the tension in the muscle cannot be relieved by stretching alone, gastrocnemius recession surgically lengthens the muscle to relieve it.
What Happens During Gastrocnemius Recession?
In preparation for endoscopic gastrocnemius recession, anesthesia is administered. The surgeon makes a small incision in the skin at the back of the leg below the bulge of the calf muscle. The surgeon carefully guides a thin tube called a cannula through the back of the leg to create a working channel for the instruments.
The cannula is hollow, and a slot on the bottom allows the surgeon to access the tissue of the gastrocnemius muscle. The surgeon inserts an endoscope into one side of the cannula to get a clear view of this tissue.
The surgeon inserts a small cutting instrument into the open end of the cannula and carefully reaches through the slot in this tube. The surgeon carefully draws the cutting instrument along the outermost layer of the gastrocnemius, cutting through the fascia (a tight layer of connective tissue that encases the muscle fibers).
Cutting the fascia allows the muscle to relax and lengthen, allowing the foot to flex properly and the heel to drop into a natural position. Gastrocnemius recession surgery is an outpatient procedure that allows you to recover in the comfort of your home.
Are There Risks Associated With Gastrocnemius Recession?
Any surgical procedure carries inherent risk, but surgery of the foot and ankle area are generally well tolerated and safe. Your Resurgens physician will discuss the risks of gastrocnemius recession, including delayed healing, infection, numbness, and blood clots. You should inform your doctor if you have a family history of blood clots.
Post Gastrocnemius Recession & Recovery
After gastrocnemius recession, the incisions are closed and bandaged. The leg will heal within six to eight weeks. You may be required to wear a postoperative shoe, walking boot, or splint depending on your needs and whether any additional procedures were performed during the surgery.
Physical therapy may be needed to rebuild calf strength and help with your gait and balance. This is typically started two weeks after the procedure and is continued until your goals are met.
Resurgens Orthopedics is Georgia's most trusted Foot & Ankle center. Schedule an appointment now to learn more about gastrocnemius recession surgery.