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The inflammatory condition of capsulitis can affect virtually any joint in the body. Capsulitis in the foot is an inflammation of the ligaments near the toe joints, brought on by excessive force to the forefoot. It is characterized by sharp or aching pain near the ball of the foot or the base of the toes, experienced with movement of the toes or pressure on the toes.

Foot capsulitis is a condition that can be managed with proper care; however, if left untreated, it can weaken the ligaments near the toe, making dislocation or deformity more likely.

Causes of capsulitis

Capsulitis is caused by too much stress on the foot joints, which can result from trauma, inappropriate footwear, or from deformities within the foot.

Climbing ladders and engaging in activities that require stooping, like gardening or working low to the ground, can overstretch the ligaments near the toes and produce inflammation. Wearing high heels or unsupportive shoes can also cause excessive bending of the toes and inflammation.

People with certain medical conditions, including arthritis, are predisposed to inflammation within the joints, putting them at a higher risk of developing capsulitis and related conditions.

Capsulitis symptoms

Most patients with capsulitis complain of a nagging pain in the forefoot. Pain can develop on either the top side or bottom side of the foot, and any type of stretching of the toes up or down will produce discomfort.

Other symptoms of capsulitis include: 

  • Swelling and redness near the toe joints. 
  • Difficulty walking.
  • Stiffness of the forefoot. 
  • Pain near the ball of the foot.

Symptoms of capsulitis can mirror other foot conditions, including neuroma, so it is best for you to see a physician for a proper diagnosis.

Treatment of capsulitis

The goal of treatment for capsulitis is to reduce stress to the forefoot. Most physicians will initially recommend conservative treatment to accomplish this, like icing your foot, wearing foot pads and cushioned orthotics, and avoiding high heels or shoes that lack support.

If these conservative methods fail to eliminate pain, cortisone injections can be used to reduce inflammation and swelling. If trauma to the joints continues, the risk of rupture to the joint capsule increases.

In cases where capsulitis can be attributed to abnormalities of your foot, surgery may be necessary to reposition or shorten the bones relating to the issue.

If you are experiencing pain in the forefoot, visit a doctor for a complete diagnosis.

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