Capsulitis—Red Hot Ligaments that Hurt Your Foot

Home > Capsulitis—Red Hot Ligaments that Hurt Your Foot

Capsules are handy things. They allow pharmacists to mix a combination of medications into one handy pill and reduce the impact of drugs on your stomach. They are handy in your feet, too. You have capsules around your toe joints—a network of ligaments that hold the bones in position and protect them from excessive movement. Unfortunately, like any other tissue in your body, these ligaments can become worn down and inflamed, leading to capsulitis.

When Feet Don’t Work Right

Foot SilhouetteMany people are born with a foot structure that will lead to problems later in life. Foot biomechanics refers to the way your bones, tendons, and muscles move during activity, and if yours are a little off, you could end up with bunions or other deformities. This puts pressure on the wrong areas of your feet, such as the joints between the metatarsals (long bones in your foot) and the phalanges (toe bones). The ligaments around these joints are pulled and stretched in abnormal ways, and can become inflamed (red, hot, and painful). You may be able to head off the trouble if you get treatment early, but the condition will continue to get worse if you don’t.

Signs of Capsulitis

As always, pain is there to tell you something is wrong. The joint most often affected is at the base of your second toe, and that area will likely swell up, putting pressure on the nerves and sending pain signals to your brain. This may be worse when you walk barefoot. You may also feel like there is something in your shoe at that spot, and wearing them could be difficult.

Toe drift is another symptom. As you keep walking with poor mechanics, the inflamed ligaments may become weaker, and not be able to hold the joint in proper position. The second toe may start drifting toward the big toe, even ending up crossing over it at the final stage of this condition.

Take Quick Action

When you notice pain under the ball of your foot, especially by the second toe, don’t wait—come in for an examination. Another condition, Morton’s neuroma, has similar symptoms (although between the third and fourth toes), so it’s best to get an expert diagnosis and find the correct treatment for your particular problem. We will examine your foot and put it through different motions to see exactly what is causing the pain. We may use X-rays or other imaging tests as well.

Conservative remedies include rest and icing, taping or splinting, choosing the right pain relievers, and shoe modifications. Avoiding high heels or flimsy-soled flats can have a profound effect, for example. Cushioned inserts can also help. Many of our patients benefit from the use of custom orthotics to stave off the progression of capsulitis and rebalance the pressure on their feet. We can also show you stretching and strengthening exercises that will improve the condition of your toe joints as well.

Catching It Early Is Key

Waiting allows capsulitis to get worse and makes it much harder to treat, so please—don’t put this off. If you have pain in the ball of your foot, call Abbott Foot & Ankle Clinic in Collingwood, ON, at (705) 444-9929 and set up an appointment. You want your feet to stay healthy and happy and provide you with many years of great service. Let us help!

Photo Credit: How Soon Ngu via