Baxter’s Nerve Entrapment… Healing those painful heels

HEEL PAIN can be exasperating.

A friend of mine was experiencing some heel pains, granted we had done a lot of walking, but it couldn’t account for the extent of her discomfort. In her sifting through the symptoms, she initially cited Plantar Fasciitis as the ailment; my thought as well. However, she observed closer and realised it was Baxter’s Nerve Entrapment.

What is Baxter’s Nerve Entrapment?

Baxter’s Nerve Entrapment can simply be described as a nerve that innervates or stimulates the heel, and which is somehowMedial calcaneal nerve not gliding smoothly through the soft tissues of the foot. Essentially, it’s a pinched nerve, but is more of an impingement. It can be caused at times by residual scar tissue from plantar fasciitis. In fact the symptoms can mimic plantar fasciitis.

It is described medically as the acute pain felt when the first branch of the lateral plantar nerve becomes entrapped in the medial heel. Though most cases of heel pain are associated with plantar fasciitis, some patients are misdiagnosed, and the problem could in fact be associated with the entrapment of your Baxter’s nerve.

How is it Diagnosed?

Because Baxter’s nerve entrapment may be hard to differentiate from plantar fasciitis, some doctors or podiatrists may request an X-ray or bone scan to help with the diagnosis. This would, in particular, help to rule out the presence of heel spurs. For days my friend was saying, “I’ve not sure whether it’s really plantar fasciitis.


With entrapment, the pain is more localised, is pressure sensitive, and gets worse with activity rather than better. You may experience burning as well or a sharp shooting pain. Patients occasionally locate the pain at the edges of the heel, either the outer or inner edge.

Excessive walking or running, and certainly ill fitted shoes (without cushioned support and orthopaedic structure), can contribute to the intensification of the pains. It can sometimes be further aggravated by poor fitting orthotics.

Treatment Options

Baxter’s nerve entrapment, like plantar fasciitis, requires the same treatment initially.

For some persons, the use of orthotics helps their cause. However, on the flip side, some persons feel less discomfort in a pair of trainers or well-padded shoes. 

Visiting a Physical Therapist for treatment is an excellent opinion on the road to, or to get on the road to recovery. They would give you some exercises to work into a daily foot stretch routine. They let you know when to come in again to reassess where you are at, and if there is  need to add or take way from the regime previously given. Massages and electrical therapy would help to treat with the issues as well.  You would also be assessed to determine whether or not exercise (walking or otherwise), should be incorporated into your activities.

Should you not immediately respond to any of the above treatments, your condition is most likely not plantar fasciitis. If this is the case, many physicians recommend corticosteroid and local anesthetic injections, directly into the nerve.

If all of the options indicated become exhausted, the next step is typically surgery. The procedure performed, known as neurolysis, is intended to release the nerve. In most cases, the proper diagnosis and treatment of Baxter’s nerve entrapment leads to a 92% success rate in reducing or completely eliminating heel pain.

Other than plantar fasciitis, Baxter’s Nerve Entrapment can be misdiagnosed as rheumatoid arthritis, stress fracture or tarsal tunnel syndrome. Visit your orthopaedic specialist, podiatrist, chiropodist to map what may be occurring with you.

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