The plantar plate is a ligament within the joints for the base of the toes in the feet. A plantar plate tear happens when we have a little tear in that ligament. In the past this problem may have been termed metatarsalgia, however that was a pretty generic term for just about any pain in the foot belonging to the metatarsals. Since more come to be understood in relation to the anatomy of the forefoot and the role of the structure in several painful conditions the terms plantar plate dysfunction and plantar plate tear become better understood to clarify this condition. The problem commonly begins with an ache under the metatarsal head in the foot which comes on slowly. Later on it could be quite painful to touch. Occasionally, the toe might become raised since the tear means that the ligament has difficulty holding the toe plantarflexed which is one of the purposes of this plantar plate. An ultrasound assessment may be used to verify the diagnosis.
The cause of this disorder isn't clear but it is related to overuse and overstretching of the plantar plate. Some foot types also seem to get this more often. The typical initial treatment for a plantar plate tear is often taping to keep the toe plantarflexed to alleviate the load on the plantar plate which has the tear. A metatarsal pad is frequently used as well or rather than the taping to help decrease force on that plantar plate. Occasionally padding to offload the sore spot can provide a great deal of relief. Furthermore, a inflexible soled shoe could be used to further prevent the toe from bending may also be added to the above. Typically, this approach must be used for at least a couple of months to see if it may help. Frequently, this works well in almost all cases. Nonetheless, if this will not help, then surgical alternatives really need to be considered to mend the rupture.