The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Pierre Garcon has a lot on His Plantar Plate

Posted by on Monday, February 4th, 2013

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I’m not a big sports fan so I wasn’t paying much attention when it was announced that Pierre Garcon, the Redskins wide receiver, was out with an injury. I did perk up my ears, however, when I heard that he had a plantar plate tear. The reason? Unlike many foot injuries suffered by high-impact athletes running at each other like freight trains, plantar plate tears can happen to anyone. In Garcon’s case, the initial injury was sustained early in the season and, after just a few missed games, he was back on the turf, only to injure himself more severely by going back too soon. Now, months later, he’s still undecided about surgery. It’s true, the recovery time is long, but what is the alternative? Let’s explore Garcon’s options.

 

 

The plantar plate is a ligament that runs under your toe joint and into your metatarsal head (the long bones on the top of your foot). It is responsible for holding the toe in place but also moves it up when you walk. It protects the metatarsal head and keeps the toe from hyper-extending. Yep, it’s a useful little ligament indeed.

While Garcon’s injury was probably the result of a traumatic event—300 pounds of lineman landing on his foot might do it—in most people this injury is the result of a pronation, hammertoes, or bunions. In other words: it’s a repetitive strain injury (there are a lot of these, I know) caused by an abnormality in the anatomy of the foot.

 

 

The symptoms of a plantar plate tear are:

  • The sensation that you’re walking on bone (this is the metatarsal head).
  • Redness or swelling, particularly on the top of the foot around your second toe.
  • Pain on the ball of your foot, particularly under your second toe.
  • Your toe begins to shift upwards or to the side (this is only in more advanced, serious cases).

 

 

So what happens if, like Garcon, you decide against surgery?  Well, if the tear is partial, you may not need it. This can, theoretically, heal on its own, provided you give it plenty of time and rest up. Your second toe should be immobilized to prevent it from moving around so the ligament can heal. Therapeutic ultrasound can also help speed healing. But, if it’s a severe tear, prolonging surgery may just mean you sit on the bench… and sit… and sit… until you give in and go under the knife. If you suspect that you may have a plantar plate injury, don’t delay. Visit The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine (212.996.1900) for a consultation and treatment.

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If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.