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Pain in the Ball of the Foot May Be a Plantar Plate Tear

Tennessee Titan’s DeMarco Murray had a good first season with the team, leading the AFC in rushing and coming in third overall in the NFL. But the veteran running back fought through the season with a painful injury in his right foot – a torn plantar plate.

The plantar plate is really a ligament on the bottom of your foot. This ligament attaches your toes to the long bones, or metatarsals, at the base of your toe bones. The job of the plantar plate is to keep your toes in place and prevent them from drifting or over-extending.

What Are the Symptoms of a Plantar Plate Tear?

If you have a plantar plate tear, you will have pain in the ball of the foot, either a sharp pain or a dull ache. You may see swelling on the top of the foot accompanied by redness. The sensation can be described as walking right on the bones of the foot without any cushioning.

As the tear in the ligament increases, the second or third toe may shift to one side – most commonly the second toe will shift toward the big toe. This toe elevation increases the pressure, causing bone bruising and pain.

It’s very important for an accurate diagnosis of a plantar plate tear in order to begin proper treatment and halt the toe’s deformity. This injury can look like hammertoes, neuromas or capsulitis. To diagnose your pain, we’ll examine your toe joint for deformity and degree of pain. We will take x-rays right in our office to check the deformity and look for arthritis. If necessary, we’ll call for an MRI or ultrasound to check the extent of damage.

Treating a Plantar Plate Tear

Conservative treatments can work if the injury hasn’t progressed too far. Our goal will be to help the ligament heal by taking pressure off of the foot. A boot can take the weight off of the ball of the foot. We’ll wrap tape around the toe to reposition it downward and shift it back to the side if necessary.

Custom-fitted orthotics can help support under the ball of the foot to relieve pressure off the stretched area.

If however the toe has drifted a considerable amount, the ligaments around the toes have probably been stretched and surgery will be necessary to move the toe back to its correct position.

Please don’t delay in contacting Stavros O. Alexopoulos, DPM if you suspect this type of toe injury. Titan DeMarco Murray admitted that he finished the season playing with a torn plantar plate which could only have intensified the injury. Don’t make this mistake! Give us a call to have your pain evaluated.

Let Us Help with Any Foot or Ankle Pain

Dr. Alexopoulos, board certified podiatrist has the right experience to diagnose and treat any foot and ankle pain including toe injuries like a torn plantar plate. Many treatments and surgeries can be addressed right here in our office. Please call our Chicago office at (773) 561-8100 or request an appointment via the website. Let us heal your injury to get you back in the game!