Merck Manual

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Medial and Lateral Plantar Nerve Entrapment


Kendrick Alan Whitney

, DPM, Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine

Last full review/revision Dec 2019| Content last modified Dec 2019
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Medial and lateral plantar nerve entrapment is compression of nerve branches at the inner heel (the medial or lateral branches of the plantar nerve) that causes pain.

The nerve branches are pinched (compressed) between bone, ligaments, and other connective tissues, causing pain. The pain is made worse when ankle motion and certain shoes or activities such as running put additional pressure on the pinched nerves.


Symptoms of medial and lateral plantar nerve entrapment include almost constant pain, whether walking or sitting. Just standing is often difficult. The pain is often chronic, difficult to treat, and aggravated by high-impact activities such as running. Burning, numbness, and tingling, which often occur when nerves are compressed, usually do not occur in medial and lateral plantar nerve entrapment.


  • A doctor's examination

Doctors base the diagnosis of medial and lateral plantar nerve entrapment on the person’s symptoms and the results of an examination.


  • Splints, orthoses, and physical therapy

Devices that keep the foot from moving (such as splints) and other devices placed in the shoe (orthoses) may help, as may physical therapy and application of extreme cold to the nerve (cryotherapy).

If these treatments do not work, injection with an alcohol solution to deaden the nerve or surgery to free the nerve from compression may help relieve pain.

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