The plantar plate is a fibrous like framework which is located on the plantar side of the metatarsophalangeals (toe) joints of the feet. Structurally these are just like the meniscus within the knee meaning they are built to stand up to lots of compressive loads and retain the joint surfaces. It's really a a thickening of the underside of the joint capsule which surrounds that joint to hold the joint fluid within the joint. Most of the fibers inside it are oriented longitudinally in the similar path as the foot points, so it might tolerate lots of tension forces. The collateral ligaments on both sides of the joint furthermore attach to the plantar plate, to help provide the joint greater stability. The purpose of the plantar plate is to try to support the weight of the body and restricts dorsiflexion of the metatarsophalangeal joint.
Because this plantar plate was designed to tolerate those high forces, occasionally the forces can be so great or the tissues weakens for several possible reasons, it might become painful or even have a small split in it. This isn't typically a thing that happens quickly and builds up gradually with time. The pain sensation is usually on weightbearing underneath the joint at the base of the toe. Palpation of this place is frequently quite painful. Often the diagnosis can be validated by having an ultrasound assessment. In the past the signs and symptoms might have just been dismissed as a metatarsalgia which isn't really a diagnosis and just signifies pain throughout the metatarsals. Currently far more is known regarding this plantar plate and the way it makes symptoms, the treatment could be better focused to make it better. The key to correcting this concern is to relieve stress on the plantar plate and to do this the toe ought to be held in a plantarflexed placement with taping. This usually manages many cases of a plantar plate tear.