What terms are used to differentiate entrapment location in nerve entrapment syndromes of the lower extremity?

Updated: Oct 15, 2019
  • Author: Minoo Hadjari Hollis, MD; Chief Editor: Thomas M DeBerardino, MD  more...
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Answer

Historically, tarsal tunnel syndrome was defined as entrapment of the posterior tibial nerve in the fibro-osseous tunnel behind the medial malleolus, and it was considered rare. [1, 2, 3] In time, however, the lateral plantar nerve and its branches were noted to be a more common site of entrapment. Accordingly, some authors have used the following terms to differentiate the location of entrapment:

  • Proximal tarsal tunnel syndrome - Entrapment of the posterior tibial nerve in the fibro-osseous tunnel behind the medial malleolus
  • Distal tarsal tunnel syndrome - Entrapment of the distal branches (ie, the medial and lateral plantar nerves)

In addition, others have more specifically identified entrapments involving the first branch of the lateral plantar nerve and the calcaneal nerves. Nevertheless, the term tarsal tunnel syndrome continues to be frequently used to define all entrapments of the posterior tibial nerve or its branches, starting from posterior to the medial malleolus and extending distally. [4]


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