Tag Archives: metatarsalgia

How to manage a plantar plate tear?

Metatarsalgia is a widely used term which doesn't mean much. The metatarsals include the long bones behind the toes in the feet and the suffix -algia implies pain, so metatarsalgia just means pain in the metatarsals region. That's pretty meaningless as a medical diagnosis on the grounds that the pain is usually because of, literally, 100’s of various things. To use the term metatarsalgia is a lot like using the expression ‘sore knee’. This isn't a diagnosis and is just a non-specific term for symptoms in the ball of the foot. This is very important as getting the diagnosis right is absolutely important and the first step to get the therapy correct. There isn't a treatment for metatarsalgia. There is treatment for the various disorders that cause pain around the metatarsals.

Just about the most frequent cause of pain in this region is a condition known as a plantar plate tear. The plantar plate is a strong ligament beneath the joints in the ball of the foot that give stability to the joint and protect it. If there is too high a level of activity and the toes get retracted or dorsiflexed too much, then that ligament will get stretched resulting is what is referred to as plantar plate dysfunction. In the event that strain carries on then a little tear may develop in the ligament. Another explanation for pain is this region can be what is called sesamoiditis which is some soreness of the tissues around the small sesamoid bones at the base of the great toe. This is often because of an excessive amount of load on those bones, inducing the inflammation. Simply from these two causes of metatarsalgia it should be obvious that they're two completely different issues that could easily get lumped under that pointless phrase, metatarsalgia. The treatment for these two problems are totally different, therefore it should be obvious why that word should really no longer be made use of.