Capsulitis: Trouble in Toe Ligaments

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Sometimes it’s easy to take the toes for granted—that is, until they’re injured. Your small digits are important for balancing and pushing your foot off the ground.  Issues such as capsulitis can deteriorate into more serious deformities, which can limit your mobility.

Ball of the foot painInflammation in the Toe Capsule

Capsulitis is an overuse injury that affects the ligaments around the joint where a metatarsal meets a toe in the ball of the foot. The connective tissues here form a capsule around the bone ends, holding them together. Excessive pressure can inflame and weaken these structures, which usually develops as a result of abnormal biomechanics.  A severe bunion, weak arch and second toe that is longer than the first toe are common contributors to this condition. Shoes and activities that stress the ball of the foot can also influence the problem.

The second toe is the most susceptible digit to this condition, though the third and fourth can develop it as well. You end up with pain in the ball of the foot focused under the affected joint. You may feel like you have a marble or smooth stone in your shoes when you walk around. Pain is exacerbated by prolonged ambulation. The condition is progressive, too, so the damage will continue to worsen the longer it goes without being treated.

Alleviating the Irritation and Pain

Capsulitis does not improve on its own. In fact, the more the ligament capsule is damaged, the harder it is to manage the condition. You need to have the problem diagnosed and treated early so you can restore your foot to full strength and comfort. The doctors at Country Foot Care will carefully evaluate your feet and your biomechanics. Our staff will use a variety of tests, including diagnostic images, to get a more accurate picture of your condition.

Regarding treatment, it is important to rest your foot so that it has a chance to recover. This means reducing your hard-impact activities and avoiding all non-supportive shoes, like flimsy-soled sandals or high heels. Instead, choose footwear with a cushioned sole and support through the arch. Orthotics or special pads may help relieve the pressure on the joint capsule and alleviate some discomfort. Severe conditions may need to have the foot immobilized. Ice the painful area to help decrease inflammation in the joint and allow it to heal. We may also recommend anti-inflammatory medicines to help with pain.

Taping or splinting the toe in the correct position can also help keep it from dislocating and drifting. You may also need physical therapy to help relax tightened muscle that may have contributed to your condition. Strengthening exercises are also used to build up your foot stability and power again. Surgery becomes an option if your toe has already drifted, or if your feet aren’t responding to traditional treatments.

Capsulitis is a painful problem that can limit your mobility unless it is treated. Let Country Foot Care help you manage your foot and ankle concern(s). Please call our Long Island offices at (516) 741-FEET or use our online form to reach us for an appointment.

Photo Credit: satit_srihin via

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