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Medial and Lateral Plantar Nerve Entrapment


James C. Connors

, DPM, Kent State University College of Podiatric Medicine

Reviewed/Revised Nov 2023
Topic Resources

Medial and lateral plantar nerve entrapment is symptomatic compression of the medial and/or lateral branches of the posterior tibial nerve at the medial heel and proximal arch. Diagnosis is clinical. Treatment involves orthotics and immobilization.

Symptoms of medial and lateral plantar nerve entrapment include almost constant pain, with and without weight bearing, which helps to differentiate medial and lateral plantar nerve entrapment from plantar fasciitis Plantar Fasciitis Plantar fasciitis is pain at the site of the attachment of the plantar fascia and the calcaneus (calcaneal enthesopathy), with or without accompanying pain along the medial band of the plantar... read more Plantar Fasciitis . The pain of plantar nerve entrapment is often chronic, intractable, and aggravated by high-impact activities such as running. However, simple standing is often difficult. Burning, numbness, and paresthesias are usually absent.


  • Clinical evaluation

  • Other signs of tarsal tunnel syndrome (eg, Tinel sign) are often absent.

  • Symptoms can be reproduced by palpation over the proximal aspect of the abductor hallucis, the origin of the plantar fascia, or both at the medial tubercle of the calcaneus.

  • With medial nerve entrapment, there is tenderness of the proximal medial arch beneath the navicular bone, sometimes with pain that radiates to the medial toes.

  • With lateral plantar nerve entrapment, there is tenderness over the plantar medial heel and abductor hallucis muscle.

How to Examine the Foot
How to Examine the Ankle


  • Orthoses, immobilization, and physical therapy

Immobilization and foot orthoses to prevent irritating motion and pressure may be helpful in patients with medial and lateral plantar nerve entrapment, as may physical therapy Physical Therapy (PT) Physical therapy aims to improve joint and muscle function (eg, range of motion, strength) and thus improve the patient’s ability to stand, balance, walk, and climb stairs. For example, physical... read more and cryotherapy Cold Treatment of pain and inflammation aims to facilitate movement and improve coordination of muscles and joints. Nonpharmacologic treatments include therapeutic exercise, heat, cold, electrical... read more . If these treatments are ineffective, injection with a sclerosing agent that contains alcohol or careful surgical decompression of the nerve may help relieve pain.

NOTE: This is the Professional Version. CONSUMERS: View Consumer Version
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