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Phone: 541-776-3338
Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle, LLC
Call Us 541-776-3338
Toll Free 844-899-6826

Capsulitis: When Toe Joints Hurt

It is not always possible to put life on hold when you have foot pain. Unfortunately, even a minor injury or a few aching joints can make even the littlest of tasks unbearable. An aching joint, particularly in your foot, is not only an uncomfortable nuisance, but can also make even a simple step a challenge. When foot pain is caused by a condition such as capsulitis, treating it right from the start can help you live your life pain-free.

What is causing the Discomfort?

Because we don’t have our own personal X-ray machines at home, it can be difficult to know the exact reason behind your discomfort. Capsulitis is actually a condition that can develop within any joint in your body. When it occurs in your feet, it typically affects the second, third, or fourth toes, but most commonly occurs in just the second one alone.

In each foot there are ligaments that hold your bones together. When two joints are connected, the ligament tissues form a type of capsule around the ends of the bones so the joint is stable and able to function properly. When a joint is exposed to excessive amounts of weight-bearing pressure, the capsule becomes inflamed and the result is painful capsulitis. With this condition, it is common to experience swelling at the base of the affected toe, pain in the ball of the foot and while walking, and difficulty wearing certain types of footwear. Some patients feel as though a sock is bunched up underneath their foot.

How Did This Happen?

There are several causes for the development of this condition. Most often, the inflammation occurs due to abnormal foot mechanics that put repeated stress and pressure on the affected toe joint. The second, third, and fourth toes are particularly vulnerable due to the ball of the foot enduring a great amount of stress. A severe bunion that alters the alignment of your foot and the way it handles pressure is another cause, as well as wearing bad shoes that put stress on your toes and the ball of the foot. In addition, tight calf muscles and weak arches can also be contributing factors.

What is the Treatment?

Early intervention is the best course of defense against the progression of this condition. When ignored, the inflamed ligaments can become weakened to the point of being unable to stabilize the joint. You can avoid this from occurring by seeking treatment when you first notice symptoms. Dr. Evan Merrill or Dr. Adam Gerber will provide an effective treatment plan tailored to your needs, taking into consideration the nature and severity of the inflammation. Generally, treatment starts with removing weight from the forefoot so that pressure on the affected area is minimal. Rest, icing, and anti-inflammatory medications will alleviate pain and reduce the swelling.

If your condition is more severe and the joint is unstable, we may use tape to immobilize it and keep it in alignment during the healing process. Changing your footwear and using custom orthotic inserts are also helpful steps in alleviating pressure on the vulnerable joint. Surgery is usually only necessary in situations where these conservative methods fail to improve your condition.

Remember that foot pain is not normal and a condition such as capsulitis tends to be progressive. Protect your mobility and your foot health by contacting us if you have any lingering pain and discomfort before things get worse. Contact Dr. Evan Merrill or Dr. Adam Gerber at Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle by calling us at (541) 776-3338.