Capsulitis in Your Foot

Published: 05th August 2010
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Copyright (c) 2010 Tina Boucher

Has your second toe looked or been inflammed lately? Do you feel like there is a bunched up sock in your foot? Is your second toe drifting towards your big toe? All of these symptoms may be the sign of capsulitis of the foot. What is capsulitis? In our second toe, there are ligaments that surround the joints at the base of the toe, forming what are called capsules. Capsulitis is an inflammation of these capsules. While capsulitis can affect your third or fourth toes, it most commonly affects the second toe. Capsulitis can also be known as predislocation syndrome, due to the fact that if the condition is left untreated, it can lead to a weakening of surrounding ligaments and cause a dislocation of the toe.

What is capsulitis caused by? Capsulitis in your foot is thought to be caused by abnormal foot mechanics, especially when the ball of the foot takes a great deal of weight-bearing pressure. Other conditions may predispose you to capsulitis, including bunion deformities, your second toe being longer than your big toe, an unstable arch of your foot, or a tight calf muscle.

What are some symptoms of capsulitis? Capsulitis is a degenerative disease and therefore should be treated as soon as you notice the condition. Symptoms in the early stages may include:

1. Pain in the ball of your foot, almost like there is a bunched up sock .

2. Swelling in the area.

3. Difficulty wearing or putting on your normal shoes.

4. Pain when in barefeet. In more advanced cases, the affected toe may start to drift over to the big toe and cross over.

How will my podiatrist know it is capsulitis? This condition may often be confused with Morton's Neuroma, which has similar symptoms, so it is crucial that you get an accurate diagnosis from a podiatrist. Your podiatrist will manipulate the affected area to produce symptoms and X-rays will be ordered.

Will you need surgery? Not if it is caught in the early stages before it crosses over. Once it has crossed over, the toe will never go back to its original place and will need to be surgically corrected. Things that can be done prior to that are:

1. Rest and Ice.

2. Anti-inflammatory medications, like ibuprofen.

3. Taping and splinting.

4. Stretching.

5. Shoe modifications.

6. Orthotic devices.

Always contact your podiatrist first when you think you have capsulitis in your foot! They are the only ones who are specialized in treating your foot and ankle!


Dr. Tina Boucher, DPM, practices in Meriden, CT, where she owns Central CT Foot Care Center. She has been in practice for four years. Visit her website at: and her blog, .

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