What is a Plantar Plate Tear?


Plantar plate tears can be harrowing conditions affecting the fibrocartilage that runs along the football at the metatarsal phalangeal joint (MTP).

This injury usually arises during physical activity or when patients with biomechanical conditions such as hallux valgus or rigidus exhibit increased loading on the lesser metatarsal phalangeal joint due to biomechanical problems such as hallux valgus or rigidus, leading to excessive strain on this joint.


The plantar plate is a fibrocartilage structure in the ball of your foot that absorbs the enormous forces generated when walking, situated at the base of the second toe metatarsophalangeal joint (MTPJ). An injury to this area may lead to pain and swelling; symptoms include discomfort when standing up or applying pressure to toes; furthermore, a sensation may exist between two toes that indicates further separation due to injury; it could even appear as “V” signs between them indicating further separation than usual due to further separation caused by injury MTPJ injury MTPJ.

Physical examination and imaging methods can diagnose a plantar plate tear. Radiographs of the ball of the foot typically show softened and deformed areas at MTP joints with swelling. An MRI is an invaluable diagnostic tool, enabling doctors to compare plantar plate thickness against its average values; additionally, it can identify partial to complete tears.

An ultrasound and arthrogram are other diagnostic tools available that can help determine the severity and chronicity of an injury.

Surgical options may be recommended if conservative treatments fail. Most patients recover well following surgery; however, some individuals may experience complications, including wound healing issues, nerve injury (numbness/tingling in the toe), and recurrence of pain.

Avoid activities that put excess strain on the foot by wearing appropriate footwear with good arch support and limiting barefoot running and long walks on hard surfaces, along with physical therapy, as this may reduce pain and strengthen toes. Steroid injections should also be avoided as they weaken the plantar plate. Lastly, should an actual plantar plate tear occur, surgery can use minimally invasive tendon transfer procedures to restore better toe positioning.


Symptoms typically begin with pain and inflammation on the bottom of your foot, usually noticeable when standing, walking, or running, which often worsens with increased activity. Pain typically centers on either your metatarsophalangeal (MPJ) joint or localized to its plantar surface sulcus distal to the second metatarsal head; its sharp, burning, or throbbing pain may be localized or spread throughout this entire region of your sole – most likely as the result of a plantar plate tear!

Tears typically occur over time and can worsen through high-impact activities like running, ballet/dancing, sprinting, and jumping. Individuals with bunions, arthritis, or prior traumatic injury can be predisposed to plantar plate tears. Biomechanical abnormalities like long second metatarsals or elevated first metatarsals, as well as excessive pronation of feet, can all contribute to plantar plate tears; cortisone injections may have the side effect of weakening plantar plate ligaments as a side effect.

Eventually, untreated injuries can result in a deformity known as hammertoe, wherein two or more toes bend upward and create a V shape at their bases, becoming stuck in this position even when at rest and often becoming painful.

Treatment for plantar plate injuries typically begins with a comprehensive examination by your podiatrist and careful consideration of patient histories and imaging studies such as ultrasound, MRI, or x-rays if available; otherwise, clinical assessment using history review, clinical exam findings, and imaging may suffice in making an accurate diagnosis. Initial treatments might include offloading the foot with anti-inflammatories and tape/strapping the injured area to alleviate pressure. Extracorporeal Shock Wave Therapy (ESWT) could rapidly increase blood flow to heal damaged tissues.


Treatment options for plantar plate tear vary depending on its severity and degree of deformity. Mild symptoms may only require anti-inflammatory medication and wearing stiff shoes or boots to support injured areas and allow the healing of ligaments.

People suffering from chronic or severe plantar plate tears may require more aggressive treatments, including surgery. Surgery involving plantar plate resection osteotomy consists of inserting a pin into the injured foot to keep it in an ideal position and enable the healing of ligaments.

Treatment options for plantar plate tears depend on their severity and extent of damage to ligaments. Therefore, it’s wise to have a podiatrist assess and recommend an individualized care plan.

Plantar plate tears can lead to pain, numbness, and tingling between your toes and on the ball of your foot, often caused by sports injuries, prolonged walking or standing, repetitive stress from long hours standing or walking, and dynamic imbalances in both foot and ankle structures.

If you are experiencing symptoms associated with a plantar plate tear, make an appointment today at Moore Ankle and Foot Specialists to assess and treat it accordingly. We can evaluate your condition and devise an appropriate course of treatment so that you can get back on your feet as quickly as possible.

Plantar plate problems typically develop slowly over time and can usually be corrected with custom soft full-length orthotics. Wearing one of these devices redistributes your walking pressure into your archway rather than directly onto an injured toe, taking pressure off. However, for chronic injuries that have not responded to conservative treatment measures, surgery may need to be performed – this may include plantar plate repair, plantar flexor tendon transfer, or, in extreme cases, plantar resection osteotomy procedures.


Plantar plate tears are among the leading causes of ball-of-foot pain. The plantar plate is an authoritarian fibrocartilaginous structure attached between your proximal phalanx and the head of the metatarsal bone via the forefoot joint capsule. This structure keeps toes in their proper places by keeping them from spreading out as you walk or engage in activities, helping keep toes together and preventing over-extending or splaying out as necessary.

Plantar Plate injuries often happen gradually over time but may also suddenly manifest. Risk factors include bunions that overload the second toe, causing it to lengthen and push against the 1st metatarsal, increasing pressure through the plantar plate; abnormal biomechanical factors, such as long 2nd metatarsals or elevated 1st metatarsals, which put extra strain on it; prior foot surgery or cortisone injections which could weaken it; as well as previous surgeries or cortisone injections into which this could happen more suddenly.

If a plantar plate injury goes untreated, it can develop into a chronic condition, resulting in toe deformities that wear away joint cartilage and increase pain, stiffness, and difficulty walking or running – possibly necessitating more complicated surgical correction. Finally, dislocation could occur with potentially more drastic consequences than expected, requiring more drastic modification.

Plantar plate injuries can often be prevented with appropriate footwear, foot stability exercises, icing, and physical therapy from our experienced podiatrists – we will show you these techniques so you can avoid an injury to the plantar plate!

Before any issue develops, visiting a board-certified podiatric surgeon can be your best defense for protecting your feet. A simple evaluation may detect many problems before they arise and save you the discomfort and trouble associated with treating foot pain. If you are currently experiencing foot issues, call us immediately at Boca Raton, Plantation, or Coral Gables for an appointment – we have locations throughout South Florida where our UFAI podiatrists specialize in pain-free returns to normal activities quickly! Our offices in South Florida treat people of all ages and activity levels so you can return soon without limitations or restrictions! We know the importance of being able to pursue those things you love without experiencing discomfort!