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Footnotes / Blog

What Are Plantar Plate Tears and How Are They Treated?

Sunday, September 24th, 2017 Elizabeth Anthony

Plantar Plate Tear Symptoms

A tear/injury to the strong supporting ligament underneath a toe, with pain along the ball of the foot. These tears can occur acutely during an injury or can be caused by chronic strain on the ligament.

The plantar plate is supposed to keep the toes in place and stop them from drifting. Patient’s may notice a toe that is shifting to one side, or the sudden appearance of a “hammer toe”.


  • Your podiatrist will manually manipulate the affected joint into several different positions to evaluate the amount of deformity and the specifically localize the pain.
  • X-rays will likely be taken, and they will show the degree and angles of the deformity, as well as any arthritis in the joint.
  • Further imaging may also be performed to aid in finding the correct diagnosisAn ultrasound and/or MRI is used to more correctly evaluate the extent of damage to the plantar plate ligament.


  • Conservative
    • Initial treatment of the plantar plate tear will focus on symptom relief.
      • This may involve the use of anti-inflammaries, toe strapping, off-loading padding, altered footwear and activity modification. Occasionally custom foot orthtics can be designed to prevent the deformity from progressing.

  • Surgical
    • If conservative treatment fails or is not an option due to the severity of the deformity, then surgical correction is warranted. Different surgical options exist depending on surgeon preference.

Plantar plate tears can take time to heal, but the podiatrists at Innovative Foot and Ankle can speed the process along. If you are suffering from pain that may be associated with a plantar plate tear, make an appointment at one of our four offices in the northern New Jersey area. All of our doctor’s would be glad to get you back on your feet.