Can a Plantar Plate Tear Heal on its Own?

A plantar plate tear is a common reason for pain under the ball of the foot, typically just below and distal to the 2nd and 3rd metatarsophalangeal joints. You often see the question in forums about if a plantar plate tear can heal on its own?

It is highly unlikely that a plantar plate tear will be able to heal on its own. Almost always, some form of treatment or intervention. The cause of the problem in the plantar plate from a tear or a “pre-tear” (dysfunction) is always due to a mechanical overload. If that overload is still there, then can not heal 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 strapping or tape to reduce the mechanical overload by preventing the toe from flexing can certainly give it time to heal on “its own”. Most cases will need to use treatments such as the strapping, stiff-soled or rocker sole shoes or foot orthotics to off-load that mechanical overload to allow it to heal. However, those interventions do not always work or work quickly enough, then that is when a surgical repair is indicated.