Capsulitis of Foot Symptoms and Treatment

Capsulitis Overview


What is Capsulitis?

Every joint is surrounded by a membrane and a set of ligaments called a “capsule”, which helps the joint to function properly. Capsulitis is a condition in which these ligaments and the surrounding tissue have become inflamed.  Although capsulitis can occur in the joints of the foot, it most commonly affects the second toe.

Capsulitis can cause considerable discomfort and if left untreated.


What Causes Capsulitis of the Second Toe?


What Are Some Symptoms of Capsulitis of the Second Toe?

Symptoms may include:

    • Pain on the ball of the foot. It can feel like there’s a marble in the shoe or a sock is bunched up
    • Swelling and pain at the base of the toes (underneath the toe)
    • Difficulty wearing shoes
    • Ladie may have difficulty wearing high heel shoes
    • Pain when walking barefoot
    • Unstable toe where the toe drifts toward the big toe and eventually crosses over the big toe “crossover toe”


Capsulitis of the Second Toe Diagnosis

An thorough physical exam in essential to diagnose metatarsophalangeal joint capsulitis.  Symptoms of capsulitis can be similar to those of a condition called Morton’s neuroma, which is treated differently from capsulitis.

  • X-rays are usually ordered, and other imaging studies such as MRI are sometimes needed.


Non-surgical Treatment of Capsulitis of the Second Toe

The best time to treat capsulitis of the second toe is during the early stages, before the toe starts to drift toward the big toe.

The following treatments options are for early treatment of capsulitis:

    • Rest and ice the area
    • Oral medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as Ibuprofen.
    • Taping/splinting the toe Abductor hallucis muscle strain
    • Stretching exercises for patients who have tight calf muscles Abductor hallucis muscle strain
    • Supportive shoes with stiff soles to lessen the amount of pressure on the ball of the foot.
    • Orthotic / Custom shoe inserts to distributes the weight away from the joint Abductor hallucis muscle strain
    • Topical pain relieving gel Abductor hallucis muscle strain


When is Surgery Needed for Capsulitis of the Second Toe

Once the second toe starts moving toward the big toe “crossover toe”, surgery is needed to reduce the deformity