Capsulitis of the Foot

Capsulitis of the foot, also called MTP (metatarsophalangeal) synovitis, causes a sharp or aching pain in the ball of the foot, often centered beneath the base of the second toe. This pain indicates a separation of the proximal phalanx, the bone at the base of the toe, and the metatarsal, the long bone of the foot.

What You Need To Know About Capsulitis of the Foot

What Is Capsulitis of the Foot?

When the joints located at the base of the toes experience a significant amount of pressure and stress, an inflammation beneath the ball of the foot often occurs. This condition is called capsulitis of the foot, and it affects the toe bones that help you with bending, stretching, and other movements. Because your toes assist your body with balance and movement, capsulitis causes serious limitations in mobility when left untreated.

As capsulitis progresses, it causes subsequent deformity of the affected toe and can lead to dorsal dislocation of the toe. While capsulitis most commonly occurs in the second digit, this affliction may also affect the third and fourth toes.

Learn more about MTP joint synovitis from the experts at Resurgens Foot & Ankle Center. Schedule an appointment at one of our Metro Atlanta locations now!

What Causes Capsulitis of the Foot?

Capsulitis of the foot is caused by increased stress on the metatarsophalangeal joint at the base of the toe, which causes inflammation and degeneration of the ligaments and tissues that hold the joint together.

Increased stress is typically caused by activities that generate an excessive load on the ball of the foot, such as climbing ladders, squatting, or using an elliptical trainer or stair climbing machine. Harmful stress can also be caused by high-heeled shoes, rheumatoid arthritis, or by physical problems such as a bunion, an abnormally high arch, or an abnormally long second toe. Capsulitis of the foot most commonly occurs in males or females between the ages of 30-60.

Capsulitis of the Foot Symptoms

Capsulitis patients typically experience a burning or aching pain in the ball of their foot, and the pain is usually made worse when walking without shoes on hard ground or flooring. As symptoms progress in severity, capsulitis may cause toes to shift positions, causing extreme pain and difficulty in walking.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Swelling near the base of the toes

  • Foot pain that progresses through the day

  • Foot pain that is relieved with rest

  • Shifting in the structure of the foot

If you experience any of the symptoms listed above, especially any pain or burning sensations in the ball of your foot, schedule a consultation with Resurgens Orthopaedics right away.

How is Capsulitis of the Foot Diagnosed?

At Resurgens Orthopaedics, one of our expert physicians will diagnose your symptoms by asking a series of questions regarding your medical history. Previous foot injuries, structural abnormalities in the foot, and the cause of injury are all considered in your diagnosis.

At your consultation, the physician physically examines your foot, placing light pressure on the affected area to observe your symptoms. To rule out other foot afflictions and properly analyze your injury, imaging tests, such as X-rays and MRIs may be necessary.

Capsulitis of the Foot Treatment

Rest, ice, and proper shoes can help restore feet affected by capsulitis if they are treated early on. However, capsulitis often progresses quickly, especially with excess activity. In some serious cases, surgery may be required to rebuild strength in the affected joints and tissues.

Non-Surgical Treatment

Ultimately, non-surgical treatment centers around relieving the amount of pressure placed on the forefoot. Many methods can be used to encourage rest, reduce swelling, and offload the weight typically placed on your metatarsal, including:

  • Resting in order to keep your weight off the affected foot

  • Wearing supportive shoes and orthotics to properly support your arch and redirect weight from the affected area

  • Applying ice to decrease swelling

  • Using anti-inflammatory medications to help with pain and swelling

  • Splinting to keep the toes in their proper position

  • Working with a physical therapist to relax the tightened muscles in your foot

  • Cortisone Injections

If practicing these methods only serves to relieve pain, but does not address the structural damage caused by capsulitis, then surgery may be necessary.

Surgical Treatment

Resurgens Orthopaedics reserves surgery for patients who have persistent pain and deformity of the toe despite non-surgical measures. If the metatarsal bone is elongated, then a bone-shortening procedure can be performed to relieve the stress at the MTP joint.

If the toe becomes misaligned, then collateral ligaments and/or the plantar ligaments may need to be repaired surgically. This procedure typically involves an incision on the top of the affected joint. After surgery, the patient can usually bear weight on the foot with a postoperative shoe or short walker boot.

Please consult a Resurgens foot and ankle expert if you believe you have capsulitis of the foot. Schedule an appointment today to learn how our experts can help you get back to doing what you love.

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