What is a plantar plate tear?

A plantar plate tear is a strain or small tear in the ligament plantar to one or more of the lessor metatarsophalgeal joints in the ball of the foot. It commonly is associated with a bunion or hallux valgus.

The symptoms of a plantar plate tear are typically pain under the ball of the foot when walking that is much more painful on palpation. On palpation, the pain is under and just distal to the joint. It normally starts off slowly, but progressively gets worse, especially if there are high levels of activity.

Often the best way to treat this problem is with taping to hold the toe plantarflexed to relieve the strain on the dysfunction or tear to that it can heal. Usually the taping or some sort of bracing does help, but occasionally surgery is needed to repair the tear. Sometime up to 3-6 months of the taping is needed. A rocker sole shoe can also help keep the load of the damaged area.