Plantar Plate Injury

Forefoot PainWhat is the plantar plate?

The plantar plate is a thickening found under each of the bases of the lesser toes which forms part of the joint capsule. This structure helps you push off from your toes when you walk, stabilises the smaller toes, and guards against “hammertoe” deformity.

If you are suffering with forefoot pain, or you think you may have plantar plate injury please contact us for advice. Our Podiatrists can tell you more about your treatment options, help you return to comfort quickly and let you get on with more important things in life.

    Someone will get back to you within our normal working hours. If urgent simply call 01565 655840

    What can cause injury to the plantar plate?

    Injury to the plantar plate can be a tear, rupture or elongation of the tendon

    Plantar plate injuries can be brought on by footwear, such as high heels, walking barefoot on hard surfaces, and taking part in high impact exercises like running.

    All the metatarsal plantar plates can become damaged, but the 2nd toe joint (the one next to your big toe) is the most frequently affected because it is the longest and least stable and subject to overloading when the big toe is not functioning correctly.

    What are the signs and symptoms?

    The earliest symptom is usually pain on the top of the foot over the joint at the base of the second toe. This can radiate across the top of the foot.

    Gradually the affected toe starts to ‘float’ rather than the end of the toe meeting the ground.

    Walking causes pain under the base of the second toe and you may also detect a gap between the toes

    Along with these symptoms, the affected toe might swell and even become malformed.

    The movement of the digit during the examination may cause pain. It should be observed that the second toe is beginning to overlap the big toe slightly or even completely.

    This is commonly associated with a Bunion (hallux valgus) deformity and may become difficult to fit into shoes.

    We typically find that patients won’t recall any particular accident or incident that occurred before the symptoms more a gradual onset with increasing pain.

    How do we treat it?

    Early diagnosis is crucial. Identified and addressed quickly, the majority of patients with a plantar plate injury can recover or be managed with conservative treatments to avoid surgery:

    • Rest
    • Footwear changes
    • Strapping and splints
    • Orthotics
    • Ultrasound guided injections 

    A plantar plate injury should not be ignored. Footwear, exercise and foot mechanics all play a part and with the right modifications symptoms can be reduced.

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    Forefoot Pain