Can a plantar plate tear heal on it own?

A plantar plate tear is a strain or small tear of the ligament (plantar plate) that is plantar to the metatarsophalangeal joints in the ball of the foot. the pain is typically plantar and distal to the joint. You often see it being asked in forums and on message boards if is it possible for a plantar plate to heel with any specific treatment.

Unfortunately, it is highly unlikely that a plantar plate tear will heal on its own without some form of intervention. The symptoms in the plantar plate from a tear or a “pre-tear” (dysfunction) are due to a mechanical overload. If that overload is still there, then it is probably not going to heal up on its own. However, if you limp and reduce activity levels, then that mechanical overload is reduced so it might heal up on its own, eventually.

The use of taping to hold the toe plantarflexed to reduce the mechanical overload by preventing the toe from dorsiflexing can certainly give it time to heal. Is that healing on its own? Probably not as the strapping is a treatment, so that is technically not healing on its own. That is how you do get it to heal up; you use strategies like the strapping, like stiff-soled or rocker sole shoes or foot orthotics to off-load that mechanical overload to allow it to heal.

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