Lateral Plantar Nerve

Written by Danusha Sivakumar

Last updated June 13, 2024 • 7 Revisions

The lateral plantar nerve is a branch of the tibial nerve in the foot.

It supplies motor innervation to the plantar foot muscles and cutaneous sensation to the lateral third of the sole of the foot.

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Course

The lateral plantar nerve is a terminal branch of the tibial nerve. It arises within the tarsal tunnel – an area posterior to the medial malleolus at the ankle.

It enters the foot by passing deep to the proximal attachment of the abductor hallucis muscle. It then passes in a plane between quadratus planus and flexor digitorum brevis.

It is accompanied by the lateral plantar artery along its course.

At the head of the fifth metatarsal, the lateral plantar nerve divides into superficial and deep branches:

  • Superficial – supplies sensation to the lateral third of the sole of the foot and the lateral one and a half toes.
  • Deep – supplies the deep intrinsic muscles of the foot.

Fig 1
The superficial and deep branches of the lateral plantar nerve.

Motor Supply

The lateral plantar nerve supplies motor innervation to the majority of the intrinsic foot muscles:

  • Abductor digiti minimi
  • Quadratus plantae
  • Lumbricals 2-4
  • Adductor hallucis
  • Flexor digiti minimi brevis
  • Dorsal and plantar interossei.

The remaining plantar foot muscles are innervated by the medial plantar nerve.

Sensory Supply

The lateral plantar nerve supplies sensation to the skin of the lateral third of the sole and the lateral one and a half toes.

Fig 2
Cutaneous innervation to the sole of the foot.