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A plantar plate tear is a common problem that causes pain under the ball of the foot. The plantar plate is a thickening of the joint capsule that surrounds the metatarsophalangeal joints. Plantar plate dysfunction is a strain of that thickened joint capsule that can progress to a minor tear.
Podiatry Experts has had a number of questions on this problem:
The bunched up sock feel under the toes is a common symptom described by people with this problem. Typically palpation over the joint and distal to the joint produces pain.
The best conservative treatment is to use stiffer soled shoes, strapping to plantar flex the toe and metatarsal pads. Surgery may be needed to fix a tear if conservative measures do not help.