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Pain in the Ball of the Foot May Be Capsulitis

Do you have pain in the ball of your foot? Does it feel as if your sock is bunched up or you’re stepping on a marble? Is it difficult to wear shoes because of the pain and swelling?

You may have capsulitis, a fairly common condition that can occur at any age. Capsulitis normally affects the second toe although it can also be found in the third or fourth toes. The base of the toe has ligaments surrounding the joint, forming a “capsule” that helps the joint to work properly. When these ligaments are inflamed, the result can be capsulitis, or inflammation of the capsule.

Capsulitis is generally caused by abnormal foot mechanics that place excessive pressure on the ball of the foot under the toe joint. You may be predisposed to this problem if:

  • You have a serious bunion.
  • Your second toe is longer than the big toe.
  • Your arch is unstable.
  • You have tight calf muscles.
  • You have arthritis.

Other causes include:

  • Sudden trauma or injury.
  • Wearing footwear that is not supportive or poorly-fitting. Wearing high heels can cause this problem too.
  • Activities that involve repeated toe bending like gardening or climbing a ladder.

Treating Capsulitis

Stavros O. Alexopoulos, DPM will carefully examine your foot and test the stability of the joint to diagnose capsulitis and rule out other problems. Its symptoms can often resemble other foot ailments like Morton’s neuroma.

It’s important to begin treatment for capsulitis in its early stages. If your condition is not too far advanced, we will concentrate on conservative treatments to reduce the pain and swelling and stabilize the joint:

  • Rest the foot and apply ice packs to the area several times each day.
  • Take anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen to reduce the inflammation.
  • Tape the toe in place to prevent drifting.
  • Do gentle stretching exercises for a tight calf.
  • Switch to low-heeled, supportive shoes that have stiff soles.
  • Steroid injections can relieve inflammation.
  • Custom-fitted orthotic devices can redistribute pressure away from the joint.

If the second toe has started to move toward the big toe, surgery will be required to realign the toes. We will discuss surgery with you if necessary based on your individual situation.

Please Contact Us for Any Foot or Ankle Pain

If you have pain in the ball of your foot or any other location, it’s important to address it as soon as possible to avoid further complications. Please contact Dr. Alexopoulos, board certified podiatrist for a quick diagnosis and treatment plan. You can reach us at our Chicago office at (773) 561-8100 or request an appointment via the website. Act now to prevent further joint damage and to relieve your pain.