What is Capsulitis?

“Capsulitis” means inflammation of a capsule. But it’s got nothing to do with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. That’s a different kind of capsule! The capsule of capsulitis refers to the area at the base of your second toe. There are ligaments located within this capsule that attach your toe to your midfoot. When the ligaments become inflamed, we call it capsulitis.

What are the symptoms of capsulitis?

Some of the symptoms include

  • swelling at the base of the second toe (sometimes the third or fourth toe)
  • stiffness, tenderness, and sharp pains in your toe joint
  • pain the ball of your foot
  • pain when you walk, especially without shoes

In advanced cases, the joint breaks down, and the second toe begins to overlap the big toe.                                       

What causes capsulitis?

The ligaments at the base of your toe can become inflamed when they stretch beyond their normal capacity. Over-stretching can occur with poorly-fitting or unsupportive shoes, excessive exercise, too much pressure on the forefoot or toes (as with wearing high heels), or from a traumatic injury. Anything that causes you to bend your toes repeatedly can cause capsulitis.

Structural deformities in your foot can also contribute to capsulitis. For example, an advanced bunion can put pressure on the base of your second toe. A weak arch, tight calf muscle, and a second toe that’s longer than your big toe are other examples of structural foot mechanics that can cause capsulitis. Arthritis can also pave the way for this type of joint inflammation.

How do we treat it?

At home, you can reduce the pain of inflammation with rest, ice, anti-inflammatory medications, and supportive shoes with a roomy toe box. However, capsulitis can be mistaken for other foot conditions, including neuromas or metatarsalgia. So, if these home remedies don’t relieve your pain, make an appointment for a full exam with Dr. Heidi M. Christie and Dr. Chanda L. Day-Houts of Montgomery Foot Care Specialists, located in Alabama’s river region. We can confirm a diagnosis and offer other ways to reduce the pressure on your joint, including custom orthotics and cortisone injections.

Advanced cases of capsulitis may require surgery. Find out by calling us at (334) 396-3668 for an appointment at our office in Montgomery. You may also contact us online.