Our feet are complicated structures with bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments all working together to keep us moving. There is even a plate in your foot – that is, a plantar plate.
The plantar plate is actually a ligament on the bottom of your foot that attaches your toes to the long bones at the base of your toe bones (the metatarsals). This ligament has an important job – to keep your toes in their places and prevent them from overextending or drifting.
A tear in the plantar plate is a painful injury. Athletes who experience trauma to their feet may get a plantar plate tear. This injury is also common in middle-aged women whose feet over-pronate or roll inward.
How Do I Know If I Have a Plantar Plate Tear?
A plantar plate tear can be very painful. You’ll feel pain in the ball of your foot as either a dull soreness or a sharper pain, and you may also have swelling and redness on the top of the foot. Many with this injury describe the pain as though they are walking on their foot bones without any cushioning.
As this injury progresses and the ligament tear worsens, your second or third toe may shift sideways toward the big toe. This distortion creates even more pain and bruising of the bone.
Diagnosing and Treating a Plantar Plate Tear
If you have pain or swelling in the ball of the foot, or if your toes are drifting, please come in to see us at Pasco-Hernando Foot & Ankle. Continuing to walk or exercise with this condition can worsen the damage to the ligament.
This injury can resemble other problems like hammertoes, capsulitis or a neuroma. To rule these out, we’ll give your feet a comprehensive exam to assess degree of pain and deformity. An x-ray can confirm our diagnosis, and further imaging may be required to observe the extent of damage.
Our treatment goals will be to relieve the pain and to take pressure off the area to allow healing to take place. If the injury hasn’t progressed too far, conservative treatments will include:
- A surgical boot to take the weight off.
- Wrapping the toe downward and back to the side.
- Custom-fitted orthotics to relieve pressure from the stretched area and support the ball of the foot.
If we find that the toe drift is significant, the ligaments around the toes may be too stretched. Surgery can move the toe back to the right position.
Don’t Wait To Get Treatment for Pain in the Ball of the Foot
Dr. Lawrence J. Kales, board certified podiatrist has extensive experience with plantar plate tears and other toe deformities and injuries, along with all types of foot and ankle problems. Please come in to Pasco-Hernando Foot & Ankle for an examination – you can request an appointment via the website or call us at our Hudson office at (727)868-2128 or our Spring Hill office at (352)683-5799.