Gastrocnemius Recession Recovery? Do NOT Get This Procedure

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gastrocnemius recession recovery

I spoke to a patient on the phone this week who told me he had a gastrocnemius recession surgery for heel pain. Huh? This is a surgery that involves lengthening the calf muscle for a tight calf, which is like saying your car pulls to the left when you drive so we should lengthen the left axle. This surgery, therefore, makes my list for the top 10 dumbest and most dangerous things a surgeon can do to an unsuspecting patient. Let me explain.

What Is Gastrocnemius Recession?

This procedure involves surgically cutting the calf muscle (a.k.a. gastrocnemius) and either letting it heal or surgically sewing it back together after partially cutting its tendon. It’s also called a Strayer or modified Strayer procedure. While the procedure (like many muscle/tendon-lengthening procedures) may be useful in children with cerebral palsy and certain leg deformities, it has instead been more recently used for patients with a chronically tight calf, plantar fasciitis, or heel pain.

Like all muscle-lengthening procedures offered to otherwise healthy patients, it’s not a good idea. Why? Your body is tuned to micromillimeter precision, and a surgery may heal with centimeter precision. In other words, trying to rearrange the biomechanics of the body with surgery is almost always a bad idea.

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What Are Common Causes of a Tight Calf Muscle (That Don’t Involve This Barbaric Surgery)?

Patients considering a gastrocnemius recession surgery have likely already tried copious stretching, massage, and many other alternative types of care, like acupuncture. I’m also assuming that common medical things, like deep vein thrombosis (a blood clot in the calf), have been ruled out.

A chronically tight calf muscle is a common symptom of an irritated S1 nerve in the low back. The patient doesn’t have to have low back pain or something on his or her MRI that a surgeon wants to operate on; the patient just has to have an irritated nerve. The calf can also be tight due to microtearing of the Achilles tendon, the way the foot hits the ground, instability or laxity in the ankle ligaments, trigger points in the calf muscle, or a host of other things. Obviously the treatment for these things isn’t to surgically cut the calf-muscle tendon!

For an irritated nerve in the low back, an epidural injection around the nerve using your own growth factors isolated from your blood platelets works well. Tearing of the Achilles tendon can be treated with a precise ultrasound-guided platelet rich plasma injection. Issues with how the foot hits the ground may need orthotics, and an unstable ankle can often be fixed with ligament injections. Calf-muscle trigger points can be helped by using trigger-point dry needling.

Just because you have failed physical therapy, massage, or acupuncture doesn’t mean that you should let someone cut your tendon! You just need to see a physician who can carefully perform an exam and spend an hour with you to figure out the cause (the time spent with the nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant doesn’t count—this should be an hour of face-to-face time with the doctor).

Gastrocnemius Recession Recovery

All of the treatments I’ve reviewed above have fast recovery times, and none permanently alters your biomechanics. However, realize that the same doesn’t hold true for gastrocnemius recession recovery. First there are the side effects. If you get a surgical infection, then a second or subsequent surgery will be needed along with six weeks of IV antibiotics delivered through a catheter inserted near your heart. If you dodge that bullet, then the calf muscle may not heal, leaving you permanently disabled. In addition, the area of cutting and reattachment may also be permanently weaker, so tearing the calf-muscle tendon during normal activities or in a trauma may occur. So gastrocnemius surgery recovery may not be all roses…

The upshot? Please don’t allow a surgeon to permanently change your biomechanics by lengthening your calf just because it’s tight. Your calf is that way for a reason, and it’s a symptom of another problem! Please make sure a physician spends a solid hour with you face-to-face to figure out why rather than five minutes to schedule an unnecessary surgery!

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This blog post provides general information to help the reader better understand regenerative medicine, musculoskeletal health, and related subjects. All content provided in this blog, website, or any linked materials, including text, graphics, images, patient profiles, outcomes, and information, are not intended and should not be considered or used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please always consult with a professional and certified healthcare provider to discuss if a treatment is right for you.

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60 thoughts on “Gastrocnemius Recession Recovery? Do NOT Get This Procedure

  1. carla flaim

    Why type of Doctor would you recommend for a consult?

    1. Regenexx Team Post author


      The most difficult thing to find in our current medical system is someone committed to finding the cause of the problem, and the skills to fix it. We can recommend these Regenexx Physicians, as they have been intensively trained to do that:

  2. Liz Odell

    Any new suggestions on how to find a doctor willing to do something besides prescribe surgery?

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      It is very challenging in the field of Orthopedics to find a doctor whose solution is not surgery. As they say, “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” Here are the Regenexx Provider locations:

  3. Linda

    Could a Regenexx Physician help someone who has already had a gastroc recession and has been left with chronic pain in the calf?

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      We can’t undo the damage caused by the surgery. We can examine you and see if either your S1 nerve or achilles tendon was the actual issue and treat those, as they would still be compromising the area if they were. Please see: or you can submit the Candidate form.

  4. Elaine Robinson

    Can I give an alternative viewpoint. I had gastrocnemius release surgery behind the knee last January. I had instant relief to the swelling in my achilles after suffering on and off for over 10 years. I had tried many alternative non invasive treatments such as dry needling, shockwave therapy, eccentric loading exercises but none were effective. After the op I did have painful bruising but within a couple of weeks this had eased and after 4 weeks I was able to walk normally. I had some Physio to help mobilise the scar tissue. Now 11 months on I can’t remember the last time I had pain in my achilles, the swelling has reduced considerably and whilst the tendon is slightly thickened it is pain free, so I can walk, go on hill waking holidays and cycle pain free. I would say try all other treatments first but if they do not give long term relief, consider surgery. It worked for me.

    1. Chris Centeno Post author

      Elaine, it’s great to hear that this invasive procedure worked for you, I would never recommend it to one of my patients as we have many less invasive ways to treat this common problem.

      1. Sylvia Smith

        As someone who has dealt with doctors that refuse to do anything invasive for 25 years (starting when I was 12) I have to say that less invasive is great for many but not all. I am having gastroc release surgery to end the pain that has basically crippled me for years. I don’t recall ever being able to run or take a long walk. I can work out for 15 minutes, 30 tops, but only if I have the ability to tolerate an inordinate amount of pain that day. As a result I’ve gotten fatter and fatter, putting more stress on my already deformed feet. Had someone done something “Invasive” years ago maybe I wouldn’t have lost so many years of my life, my fertility (I have another health condition and the weight reduces my fertility), and my life expectancy. It’s great to sit on your high horse when you’re not the one in horrible and crippling pain. PT and stretching are great, but they aren’t going to change a deformed leg muscle.

        1. Regenexx Team Post author

          Hoping for you! We wouldn’t recommend the surgery because the complications of this particular surgery far outweigh the benefits when looking at a large group of patients, so 1000, not 1 or 20, and, the cause of what’s going on with the calf muscle (usually the low back) is what needs to be identified and treated first. This is obviously beyond the scope of PT. For an irritated nerve in the low back, an epidural injection around the nerve using your own growth factors isolated from your blood platelets works well. Tearing of the Achilles tendon can be treated with a precise ultrasound-guided platelet rich plasma injection. Issues with how the foot hits the ground may need orthotics, and an unstable ankle can often be fixed with ligament injections. Calf-muscle trigger points can be helped by using trigger-point dry needling.

    2. Melissa Fulfer

      I had this surgery to correct four drop. No complications . Quick recovery

      1. Regenexx Team Post author

        Glad to hear it helped! We’re not writing about individual patients, but that looking at large groups of patients, the risks outweigh the benefits.

  5. John Huinker

    “While the procedure (like many muscle/tendon-lengthening procedures) may be useful in children with cerebral palsy and certain leg deformities” Please expound on this. I am 24 years old and have Charcot Marie Tooth, a neurological disease that affects the peripheral nerves, that ultimately weakens the lower leg and foot. Because of this I have incredibly tight calf muscles, which has been one of the causes of deformities in my foot getting worse.

    1. Regenexx Team Post author


      This may be an appropriate surgery in that setting.

  6. Kathie ward

    Please help. Two years ago I had a slight tear in my posterior tibial tendon. After months of a boot, I had no pain relief. He recommended surgery and off I went. They placed a bone anchor to repair it and in addition, lengthened my gastrocnemius tendon. Now I cannot jog, run, get on my toes and have major atrophy in my calf. I am 33, and was extremely active to now having my whole world turned upside down. Going upstairs is difficult. I would do anything to be back the way I am. Do I have any options? I have seen several doctors to treat the pain I still have as it seems the attachment of the posterior tibial tendon was not a good one. I just want my mobility back :(

    1. Regenexx Team Post author


      As horrible as that is, unfortunately, it’s not an unusual story. Structural surgical changes can’t be undone, but we’d be glad to take a look to see if we could improve your current situation. Please submit the Candidate form with a current MRI. To avoid those situations in the future, most types of tendon tears can be treated without surgery:

  7. Andrea

    I tried all the conservative methods and more that u mentioned. I had the gastroc procedure with a bone spur debridement and im thankful i did. The prior pain was crippling. The cause?…… 27yrs standing on hard floors as a surgical tech and 4yrs of becoming a dancer. There are times surgery IS necessary

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      VERY happy to hear the surgery worked well for you! There will, for the forseeable future be a set of circumstances in which surgery is necessary. Our concern is this surgery (and others) is so often performed on patients who could have been helped with a few injections of their own stem cells or platelets, and the surgeries leave them worse off than before. There are countless blog comments recounting these stories, patients hoping we can undo the damage, and a plethera of studies documenting the same. It’s likely that within the next 15 years, regenerative medicine will be the norm, and surgery reserved for those cases it should have been reserved for all along.

  8. Hannah

    I had this surgery done 7 years ago when I was in 5th grade. I do not regret it at all. I struggled my whole childhood with walking on my tiptoes and not being able to put my heel down without extreme pain. I went through countless hours of therapy and numerous doctors. I had night braces for many years as well. Nothing was working and it was starting to hurt me more physically and also socially as no kid wants to hang out with the weird kid who walks on their tiptoes all the time. This surgery fixed everything for me. I now walk like a normal person. People are genuinely surprised to find out I used to not be able to walk with my heels on the ground. I will always have to do stretching and all to keep up but it’s worth it since it has normalled out my life. While this surgery may not be great for everyone, there are certain instances when it is appropriate and is a good surgery overall.

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Wonderful to hear your surgery was successful and has had such a positive impact in your life! As physicians, that ‘s the goal. The Gastrocnemius Recession patients we see are on the opposite end of the spectrum, and the point is simply to try noninvasive procedures first, rather than structural changes that can make things worse.

  9. Yeo hangui

    Hi I’m a 24yo Male. I am born with a condition where I have some sort of lipoma sticking on upper spine. I have surgery done when I was just born and the lipoma was not removed 100%. After that my life was basically normal except for some ‘not obvious’ tightness in my both upper and lower limbs. But I had an incident and sort of a whiplash effect and my condition got triggered. I still didn’t had much issue and thought it was fine. Throughout the 5 years after the incident, I can feel myself getting worse but is still manageable.But recently, I feel that my foot drop is getting really worse and posture issue and walking gait is affecting me more. My ankle is supinated and weak due to that. My Calf is extremely tight where my dorsiflexion can’t go beyond 90 degree. It get tighter when I put my legs straight when lying down. Recently I went for a follow up and orthodist and he recommend cutting the Calf muscle and lengthen it to improve my dorsiflexion and gait. That however would be coupled with months of physio and with walking aid. But I’m thinking it because I’m already 24 but I duno if it will hurt me more or really help me.
    1 thing I’m considering it is, it might make my dorsiflexion better than I ever had even before my triggered injury. It might make me not only walk normal again but even better than before.

    I have a lipoma sticking on my spine
    Extremely tight calves and hips
    Surgery for lipoma removal is extremely risky.
    Gait is affected with foot drop also. Limited dorsiflexion. Whole right leg is weaker than the left (Calf quad and others)
    Doctor suggested Calf muscle lengthening.

    Should I do it? Please advise

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      In order to determine whether or not we can help you’d need to submit the Candidate form and go through the Candidacy process. Please see:

  10. Sabrina

    I am schedule to have gastrocnemius release on tomorrow because I have heel spurs that hurt real bad and on top of that, my left calf is very tight. I have tried steroid shots, night splits and therapy. I am wondering should I go though with the surgery. My husband told me to postpone it. Please help!!!!

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      We can’t answer that question as we’ve not had the opportunity to do a candidacy evaluation, or examine you. Ruling out simple things like an irritated S1 nerve in the low back, or microtearing of the achilles tendon, would be likely places to start and are likely treatable with injections of your own stem cells or platelets. There is no substitute for a physician who can carefully perform an exam and spend an hour with you to figure out the cause.

      1. Sabrina

        I had the surgery now 3 days ago. I am not allowed to put any pressure on my left look due to the surgery. The only thing I hate is that burning itchy feeling I get after getting up. I will be glad when all this is over.

        1. Regenexx Team Post author

          Hoping for the best for you!

  11. Denise Andrade

    Hi. My ortho convinced me to do a gastroc release last summer in conjunction with an arthritic debridement on my right ankle. He also ended up doing a microfracture, as the arthritis was worse than expected. It was a rough recovery, but I got fully mobile and dealt with the pain. I was scheduled to have my also arthritic left ankle worked on this summer (I’m a teacher so it’s easier to do it in summer). Over time however, it became apparent my right calf is now damaged. I cancelled my surgery, because I know it can’t really fix my arthritis.

    Do you think regenerative medicine might be able to help me regrow some cartilage? I’m in my late 40s and am active and really want to stay that way.

    Thank you for your time,

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      The important thing that orthopedic surgeons tend to disregard is that the body is one interconnected unit. You simply can’t cut things out, slice things in half, put hardware in, etc. without affecting other parts of the body bio-mechanically. Please see: and If you’d like to have your case reviewed for Candidacy, please submit the Candidate form.

  12. Stan Bobson

    I’ve just had this surgery because I get bad heel pain when I attempt to run and or do active sports. Do you think after I have recovered I will be able to do sports again without any heel pain. Keep in mind while I am in my casts my heels are still hurting just walking around.
    Thanks in advance.

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      In an unacceptable percentage of cases, things are made worse, not better. That said, not in every case, so hoping you recover well and all will be fine.

  13. Frida Møller

    Hey, I’m a 19 year old girl who is very active. I lift weights and run alot since I’m soon going into the military in Norway. I just had my first appointment at the oth and he told me about the surgery. I was a tiptoe walker from the time I could walk until I got 13. After that I had problems with my Achilles, calfs but also butt mucles. I always thought that it was the Achilles that was to short but after the appointment It looks like it is the calf mucles that makes the tension. My doctor told me I should do the surgery since nothing else worked. As the active athlete I am I think that it’s better to do it, give it time to heal and do exercises everyday to help it get the length and to not get that tension. But after reading all of this I just get scared. But I have to ask one thing, why so focused on this other stuff? And why does no-one mention for example if they smoke and maybe weight to much. This is something the doctor ask about since it then take a whole more time to heal. And it says that more people get a positive surgery than fail. The doctors job is to help you. Not to make u get more problems.

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Chronically tight calf muscles are usually a symptom of an irritated S1 nerve in the low back low back, which can be easily treated with an epidural injection of your own platelets. This particular surgery has an unacceptable complication rate. But that is based on a thousand procedures, not one. With any surgery, there will always be some people who truly need, and will benefit from the surgery. The issue is, this surgery is being performed at an alarming rate on patients for whom there are noninvasive, nonsurgical options to fix their problem, without making irreversible structural changes that have significant negative bio-mechanical impact. Let us know if you and your Doctor want to look into the nonsurgical option as there is a Regenexx location in Brussels. But whatever choice you and your Doctor make, we wish you the very best result.

  14. Mr Anonymous

    I had a gastrocnemius recession done on my leg as part of a flat foot reconstruction.
    Sadly this article came out after I had the procedure.
    I can not emphasize enough how much YOU SHOULD NOT get this procedure.
    I now have a sural nerve entrapment that is hard to visualize and I am in treatment with
    a regenxx provider for this issue. We now have to try and hydrodissect the nerve which is very hard to visualize as its so small…not fun.
    Equinas is certainly a part of flat foot pathology and it is prevalent in the normal population as well its very common but there are other ways to treat this condition like stretching the muscles and bracing all these conservative options are much much better. Also your calf troubles could be caused from your back as Dr. Centeno pointed out. Another thing to keep in mind if you have any athletic ambitions this surgery could be a career ender as it permanently weakens your plantarflexor total potential by disconnecting the muscle action from the aponeurosis. How much strength you lose is unclear but you will never get the strength back it could be 5% it could be 25% depending on what sport you play that could make a huge difference. It does not end there you don’t only lose strength from the lack of muscle to tendon action you also lose muscle mass from the sheer shock and trauma of the surgery which causes your muscle to shrink dramatically and of course you lose even more strength from the inactivity this surgery brings on. Its unclear if I will recover from this surgery the only saving grace I have is the doctors failed to lengthen it very much and they admitted the recession failed so its likely only millimeter differences and not centimeters (as Dr. Centeno pointed out). Make no mistake this surgery is really not all that different than an achilles tendon rupture.

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      Mr. Anonymous,
      Not an unusual result based on what we see. Hope the “failure” minimizes damage…

  15. Chad Freeman

    I have been having a tight calf for months following ankle injury. I had/have peroneal tendonitis and I “think” that my calf is taking up for a non-functioning/less-functioning peroneal tendon.

    I have talked with the Pittsburgh Regenexx clinic but am hesitant to do anything because it is hurting “less” and it is so scary starting over. But I will get it completely limbered up with massage and foam rolling, and the next day when I walk it gets tighter, the next day tighter. Even when just sitting and doing calf pumps, I can feel it contract, and not come back as far. I foam roll twice a day and stretch 3x with no success. But your article is spot on. It is so frustrating after 5 months not being able to walk far or play with my children like I would like to. I have a box of ankle “accessories” and have seen 2 physical therapists. I am worried about walking several miles through the airport next week. My calf is my free time now/second job. This is slowly degrading my life. I can see why people get surgery.

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      It’s easy to understand how life disrupting this issue can be. The problem is simply that splitting a muscle and or tendon is not a solution, but simply creates a bigger problem. Once medical things like a blood clot are ruled out, the type of exam that tracks down the cause of the problem and treats that is usually the the better long-term solution. Think carpentry: You’ve got a door you can’t get open. You could get a power saw and saw the door down the middle vertically to get in, but then you have a new problem to solve…or you could just use some graphite in the lock and open the door. If and when you’re ready, the RAPS team in Pittsburgh would be a great choice!

  16. Chad Freeman

    I absolutely agree on the non-surgery route, just don’t know which direction to pivot to. Been doing conservative treatment 170 days. Have come a long way but that calf just won’t give up the ghost.

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      If the problem is a spinal nerve, it won’t until the spinal nerve is treated. Even if you decide not to get treated, the exam to find out what’s actually causing the problem would solve the “ghost” issue. This list of Doctors can do that type of exam:

      1. Chad Freeman

        Ok, we finally did an MRI and found that my s1 nerve root is inflamed by a degenerating disc spewing proteins out into the nerve area. I want to cry, it took a year to figure out what the root cause was and everyone told me “we don’t treat calf muscles”

        I was told they can do a “right L5 TFE with corticosteroid”. Should I press for the Platelet treatment? Or go with the steroid. I was going to have him inject some PRP into some other joints as well the same day.

        I was also told by a different neurologist that the steroid would only help pain (which I have very little back pain) and would do nothing for the nerve. Therefore leaving my calf re-tightening forever.

        1. Regenexx Team Post author

          In addition to above, platelet lysate, rather than PRP is indicated for use around nerves.
          Platelet Lysate is regenerative, , where as the same injection containing steroids breaks down cartilage, can damage tendons and is lethal to stem cells. and

  17. Lance

    Ok. Back up Chris. First let’s begin with the definition of orthopedics.

    Definition of orthopedics
    : a branch of medicine concerned with the correction or prevention of deformities, disorders, or injuries of the skeleton and associated structures (such as tendons and ligaments).

    You lightly use words like Biomechanics, infection, and ridiculous explanations to scare someone from not getting surgery. I’m 41, worked as a cashier for Costco for 18 years. I have continuously struggled with feet pain, wrist pain, ankle … etc. To read how you are selling your product, like you can inject a magic potion, and all will be well. It’s crap. You talk as if surgery is changing someone’s biomechanics, I guess the uneducated would buy in to that comment. I guess injecting someone and changing their biochemistry is genius. Halving a tight calf is not the same as a having dozens of types of different ailments and injury’s and predisposition to certain conditions such as flat feet. I’ve never heard of an athlete tearing their ACL or MCL, and magically injecting it with fluid, and it’s better. Theirs damage, it must be repaired. Our bodies can repair themselves to an extent, obviously, but if a bone is removed, our bodies don’t just “Regenerate”. Stem cell research has come a long ways, but we still have a very long ways to go. Just thought I’d give others a different perspective. I wish I could take a magic fix-it pill. But I haven’t found it.

    1. Regenexx Team Post author


      Thanks for your perspective. I think the important point is, whenever possible, don’t remove the bone. In the vast majority of cases, finding the source of the problem and treating it, rather than removing or surgically altering the symptom of the problem, is the better long term plan. That doesn’t mean surgery is never necessary; it means surgery is usually not necessary.
      Our bodies repair themselves all day long, everyday. It’s when due to the catabolic environment within a joint due to wear and tear from instability, metabolic syndrome, injury, etc, such that your body can’t wage a big enough army, that we need to help. We do that by getting lots more of your stem cells,or platelets, precisely where the problem is with targeted image guided injections.
      If we find that a patient would be better off pursuing surgery, they are told. We have nothing magic to offer. Just cutting edge medical procedures backed by our registry data and research, which have helped tens of thousands of people avoid surgery, and a multitude of athletes get back on the field significantly sooner with all their original parts.

  18. Michael Dujela

    As chairman of the education and scientific affairs committee for the largest academic of foot and ankle surgeons in the world, the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, I encourage everyone to research both approaches to management of common problems ie achilles tendonopathy and plantar fasciosis. I advocate for evidence based approaches on behalf of all patients. In the course of my career, I have had the opportunity to treat over 75 thousand patients, thousands of them have been affected by plantar heel pain and various tendon issues. I personally perform regenerative techniques in addition to be uniquely qualified as an orthopaedic fellowship trained podiatric foot and ankle surgeon. Do your research. When structural problems and structural alignment issues exist, a shot of growth factors will not fix that aspect of the issue. It’s like putting a new tire on a car without doing an alignment, it will likely break down again. I have trained with the world’s leading experts in orthopaedic foot and ankle surgery in Europe and the USA through three fellowships and can tell you that surgery is strongly supported by the evidence including gastroc recession for plantar fasciitis. I advocate you do your own research before embarking on this procedure. With that said, there are no bridges burned by trying a regenerative technique, but keep in mind, the description of these surgeries as being dangerous etc should be carefully scrutinized. I have lectured worldwide on these topics at orthopedic meetings. These techniques are used by tens of thousands of surgeons internationally for a reason. Read the literature on both approaches and decide what works for you personally.

    1. Chris Centeno Post author

      This comment was answered with a new post here:

  19. Deborah

    I had the Surgey above omg I wish some one would of told me they cut both legs muscles get so tight I can’t walk now there even worse can only walk for two hour in the morning then that hurt so bad I got to sit down not only my legs feet and now my knees as soon as I rest then I can get up but not for a long time there even more tight it feel like am waking on glass and both calf are pulling and my knees are pulling too the pain is un real but as soon as I stop it talk a few min the pain back up so now am screw for life don’t every do that Surgey try other thing frist

    1. Regenexx Team Post author

      So very sorry to hear of your experience. It is for this reason that we have tried to get the word out to try noninvasive procedures like platelets and stem cells first, as these surgeries are irreversible.

  20. Andee

    I had this surgery done after being hit by a car and thrown 10-14 ft and landing on my left leg/ankle. Because of the accident I couldn’t barely walk, due to the fact that my Achilles tendon wouldn’t allow me to bend my foot. After almost 6 months of physical therapy, the amazing trauma doctor/surgeon said that the only that could help at this point was this surgery…and you know, I thank God I did, as I can walk again, actually run again, as I was a marathon runner and bicyclist who never stopped….and now I’m doing it all, better than before!

    1. Regenexx Team Post author


      That’s wonderful news – very happy for you! For the foreseen future surgery will be needed in extreme cases. Our concern is that the risk vs benefit profile for this particular surgery is unacceptable for most cases.

  21. Patrick Norton

    Was ordered to pick up used washer/dryer and filthy toilet at work and the toilet shattered on the liftgate and lacerated my gastrocnemius muscle. 3″ long and over 3/4 inch deep. Used a dirty rag to create an emergency tourniquet and drove back to the office. As I was bleeding out on the HR floor filling out incident reports and taking drug tests they approved a visit to an occupational clinic who put six stitches and sent me back to work “no restrictions.” Told the PA at the clinic my L4, L5, L5S1 were all bulging from previous injuries but W/C says no restrictions so back to carrying 4 by 12 foot doubles of drywall into homes and appliances down gravel driveways. My body overcompensated and now my left leg is bruised from the laceration to the foot. Went back to urgent care for follow up and could hardly walk and was refused service even if I paid cash. W/C insurance denied the claim of overcompensating and a real doctors release from work who still accepts cash.

  22. Sam

    I was born in 1969 with severe bilateral clubfoot. I had casts, braces, special shoes and in 1974 surgery. They did not cut my Achilles tendon nor did they cut my calf muscle. I have train and run several marathons without pain. Recently my ankles and feet hurt. The Dr said I needed to stretch and lengthen the muscles.. he mentioned cutting the tendon last resort… was wondering if there was anything thing else?

    1. Regenexx Team

      Hi Sam,
      Thankful to hear your surgeon said cutting the tendon last resort. We’d need more information through the Candidacy process to see if we can help. To do that, please submit the candidate form here:

  23. Beth H Malbon

    I had this surgery done, and it helped me immensely. I can now flex my foot and my calf muscle doesn’t hurt as much as it used to.

    1. Regenexx Team

      Hi Beth,
      Great to hear – this surgery can work for some. What we’re talking about is not individual cases, but per thousand patients, the risk vs benefit profile is unacceptable.

  24. Kimberly Quick

    I had this surgery on 9/11/19 omg I do not recommend this. I have severe nerve damage in my foot. Here it is 5 1/2 weeks since surgery and the doctor is Blaming it on the block. I have such bad pain all around my ankle and burning pins and needles around my heel. A popping in the bottom of my heel when I try to walk. My big toe and the two toes beside it have the same pins and needles burning numb feeling. I feel like a band is between my big toe pulling towards my ankle. So much swelling. Feel like rubber bands are around my toes. The padding area under my big toe and the two beside it has the same feeling and so much swelling in it. I’m to the point of this pain is so bad I don’t care if I wake up tomorrow. My life is absolutely OVER.

    1. Regenexx Team

      Hi Kimberly,
      The complication rate of this surgery is unacceptably high. Hoping you feel better as you heal!

  25. Donni

    I’m having this surgery in 2 days

  26. Stephanie

    My foot doctor said it appears I was born with short achilles tendons thus leading to flat feet… one side being tremendously worse than the other. He is recommending I have this surgery on my worse side. Should I?

    1. Chris Centeno, MD Post author

      As you can tell from my blog, I believe this surgery is rarely needed outside of cerebral palsy kids. There are a number of reasons why your Achilles may be tight that have nothing to do with short tendons.

  27. Brendon

    I have done a fair amount of research on this, and I have not found any studies in reputable journals to support the idea that gastrocnemius reduction/release surgery poses a great danger to patients. In fact, according to a study published this year by Foot Ankle International, satisfaction ratings were “very good” in more than 80% of all evaluated cases, and none reported increase in pain post-surgery. What sources are being used to draw the strong conclusions seen above?

    1. Chris Centeno, MD Post author

      Brendon, the case series that you discuss are level III data. We have not a single level I study that shows that this procedure is effective. As a physician who has seen many of these patients after their surgeries, I have direct experience with what happens, hence the strong opinion. Surgeons are famous for grading the success of surgery by whether the surgical site healed and not whether the patient’s symptoms improved.

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