A plantar plate tear is a somewhat common problem that causes pain plantar to the ball of the foot. It is considered the final stage of a tension on the ligament under the joint that moves on to a tear when there is no treatment done. The main cause of this problem is simply overuse. In the event that ligament under the joint get used too much with higher exercise levels, then it will at first become painful and then progress to a tear. The signs and symptoms are generally underneath and in front of the metatarsal head under the ball of the foot. The symptoms are worsened with higher levels of activity.
The easiest method to deal with a plantar plate tear is by using taping to plantarflex the toe in a plantarflexed placement and so the load is taken off the ligament and it is given an opportunity to recover. It is often a bit frustrating to keep strapping the toe each day which may take many months to fully heal. For this reason, there are a number of different kinds of splints that can be used. They are usually not really as effective as the taping, but they could be more than effective if taping is needed in the early stages. This may need to be continued for a few months to obtain a good result. Orthotics in the shoes with metatarsal pads can also be used to help secure the toe plantarflexed. If standing is painful, then pads on the insole can be used to maintain weight of the painful area and at least that will make it tolerable while healing takes place. More often than not this can help. Occasionally some anti-inflammatory medications and also the use of ice may be needed when it gets too painful may be needed. If this strategy doesn't work, then surgical interventions need to be considered to take care of the tear, but most instances of a plantar plate tear do heal on their own.