A plantar plate tear is a tear in the soft tissue under the ball of the foot. The plantar plate is a thick ligament type structure that holds the toes from spreading or splaying. A tear can cause persistent pain and swelling under the ball of the foot.
Causes of Plantar plate tears:
- Pressure overload ( Skipping and running common causes)
- Poor foot biomechanics or alignment (Increased pressure in the area)
- Poor footwear and increased stress (Increased walking regime – commonly occurs after an overseas holiday walking all day)
- Common in middle aged women
Poor foot biomechanics can include:
- Hammer toes
- Flat feet
- Over pronated feet (common in runners due to centre of gravity in how the foot strikes the ground)
How is a Plantar plate tear diagnosed?
A thorough medical examination and clinical history taken by our highly trained podiatrist may suspect a plantar plate tear. An ultrasound is often done to get a definitive diagnosis.
How is a Plantar plate tear treated?
Initial treatment will be focused on symptom relief through the use of anti-inflammatories, altered footwear and activity modification.
A cam walker (also known as Moon boots) can be recommended to immobilize the foot for a few weeks to allow the tear to heal. Often soft tissue injuries take a long time to heal because we do not rest the foot adequately.
If you only treat the symptoms of the problem (bandaid solution -just treating the inflammation or pain), the pain will most often return as soon as you stop the anti-inflammatories.
Therefore it is important to determine if the biomechanics of the foot is the contributing factor and treat with orthotics to realign the foot and distribute pressures evenly through the foot so the plantar plate will not be put under significant stress to tear again.
If you have persistent pain and swelling under the ball of your foot, call Kew Foot Clinic on 03 9853 6877 to make an appointment for the appropriate treatment.