What is Capsulitis?


The joints in our toes are surrounded by a fibrous capsule in turn surrounded by ligaments which protects and stabilises the joint , contains the synovial joint fluid and facilitates smooth movement.

Capsulitis is an inflammation of the joint capsule causing pain, instability and loss of movement in the area. In the foot it commonly affects the metatarsal heads, or metatarsophalangeal joints, where the toes join the foot. The joint of the second toe is most commonly affected, but it can affect the other toe joints as well.


What causes it?


Anything that causes direct stress in the joint can lead to overload and inflammation. Some common causes are:

A second toe that is longer than the first.

Sports such as sprinting or dancing which place high loads on the ball of the foot.

Faulty biomechanics where the minor metatarsal heads are loaded excessively.

Unsupportive or excessively worn shoes.


How do I know if I've got it?


You will likely experience direct pain in the area, sometimes described as a sensation of something hard like a lump under the foot. There may be some swelling and stiffness in the ball of the foot. You may also notice some misalignment of the toe.


What can I do about it?


If the area is warm and swollen, use Ice packs to reduce inflammation. If the area is just sore but not inflamed, use heat packs to increase blood flow and healing nutrients to the injured area.

Avoid high impact exercise such as running or jumping.

Wear stiff cushioned supportive shoes that reduce loads on the forefoot.

Massage your foot with a tennis ball to reduce tightness in the muscles and tendons behind the ball of the foot.


How can a Podiatrist help?


At Active we can help you recover by treating the sore area with a Laser to reduce inflammation, relieve pain, and accelerate healing. We can then offload the painful area with taping or orthotic insoles to reduce pressure on the joint while it is healing, and prescribe strength and flexibility exercises to strengthen the foot and surrounding structures in order to reduce the risk of future injury.

If symptoms are not settling, we can refer you for a scan to identify the specific structure that is injured and alter the treatment plan if necessary.

There are many different causes of pain in the forefoot and it is important to get the correct diagnosis and treatment plan to help speed your recovery.

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