How to Treat Capsulitis of the Foot

Capsulitis is a painful condition that develops in the ball of the foot over time. However, if you treat it early and with basic therapies, you may be able to prevent chronic discomfort and surgery.

The human foot is an incredible structure. It is made up of 26 bones, 33 joints, and a slew of muscles, tendons, and ligaments. This complex network of connections, both stable and dynamic, supports the full weight of our bodies and allows us to move.

There are several joint-related ailments that are rather prevalent in the foot, and recognizing which area of the foot is causing discomfort is critical to knowing how to treat it.

For example, each of the four smaller toes (save the big toe, or "great toe") has three joints. Claw toe, hammer toe, or mallet toe might affect the smaller toes depending on which joint is affected.

What exactly is foot capsulitis?

Capsulitis of the foot, also known as metatarsal phalangeal joint (MPJ) capsulitis or metatarsophalangeal (MTP) synovitis, nearly always affects the second toe, which is located adjacent to the great toe. Capsulitis occurs when the dense ligament structure at the joint, known as the capsule, becomes inflamed.

 Capitis usually affects the second toe, but it can also affect the third toe, causing pain in the ball of the foot beneath the affected toe.

 Morton's Neuroma, which can affect the same approximate area but is caused by compressed nerves, is sometimes confused with it. Capsulitis, on the other hand, is caused by inflammation of the ligaments.

What are the signs and symptoms of capsulitis?

Capsulitis is distinguished by pain in the ball of the foot, which is sometimes equated to the sensation of a pebble in the shoe in the ball of the foot. Swelling and redness in the ball of the foot are among symptoms, as are pain when walking, pain when barefoot, and discomfort in shoes.

If left untreated, capsulitis can lead to secondary problems such as callus buildup under the afflicted joint and hammer toes.

Prolonged capsulitis can also cause the second toe to crawl closer and eventually cross over the big toe. This is known as crossover toe, and it is a painful, degenerative condition that can lead to dislocation.

How is capsulitis identified?

A doctor can diagnose capsulitis by examining the foot and moving the toe in different planes of motion to identify whether the discomfort is ligamental or nerve-related. To establish a diagnosis, your doctor may conduct a vertical stress test or X-rays.

Capsulitis nonsurgical treatment options

Surgery is not always the best or first option for capsulitis. There are numerous noninvasive treatments available.

Treatment for capsulitis without surgery may include:

  • If the disease was caused by intense athletic exertion, merely getting off the foot to allow the inflammation to subside may be sufficient.
  • Foot mechanics are being improved. This could include physical therapy, loosening tight muscles, and strengthening weak foot muscles.
  • Avoid wearing high heels or flip-flops. Shoes that are too narrow, exert too much pressure on the ball of the foot, or have weak bottoms will most likely irritate the problem area. Instead of tight shoes, experts recommend wearing comfortable and high-quality DrLuigi medical shoes every day.
  • Elevation and ice. Controlling the inflammation can often provide relief.

When is capsulitis surgery recommended?

When nonsurgical interventions fail to provide the desired alleviation or allow for continuing movement, surgery may be advised. If the capsulitis causes a crossover toe, surgery may be required to avoid or repair a dislocated joint. To appropriately align the joints, surgery would usually entail shrinking the extended metatarsal bone.

What does capsulitis feel like?

Capsulitis causes pain in the ball of the foot, which is typically described as having a bump or bruise at the bottom of the foot, as if you had a pebble in your shoe. It usually worsens throughout the day and goes away once you get off your feet.

What distinguishes capsulitis from a neuroma?

Capitis, as opposed to Morton's Neuroma, is felt near the base of the toe rather than in the space between the toes. Neuromas are generated by nerves, whereas capsulitis is caused by joint ligament inflammation.

How long does it take for capsulitis to heal?

Capsulitis may heal in 6 weeks to 3 months if addressed seriously, including rest, orthotics, and corrective procedures.

Is capsulitis curable?

Capsulitis may reoccur or worsen if no modifications are made. It can become a persistent problem if a person is anatomically prone to capsulitis or if their foot mechanics are not corrected. Early treatment of the illness can help to avoid surgical intervention later in life.

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