Capsulitis: All You Need to Know

Jul 31, 2023

Foot pain can be debilitating, affecting our daily activities and overall quality of life. While many are familiar with common foot ailments like bunions and plantar fasciitis, there is another condition that often goes unnoticed but can cause significant discomfort: capsulitis. In this article, we will delve into the world of capsulitis, exploring its causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment options, prevention, and long-term care, so you can gain a thorough understanding of this hidden foot condition.

What is Capsulitis?

Capsulitis refers to the inflammation of the ligaments surrounding the joints in the foot, most commonly affecting the ball of the foot, most specifically the metatarsophalangeal joint. The inflammation results from excessive pressure or stress placed on these joints, leading to the deterioration of the joint capsule over time.

Causes and Risk Factors

Several factors can contribute to the development of capsulitis:

  • Structural imbalances: Individuals with high arches or flat feet, and a Morton’s foot may be at a higher risk of developing capsulitis. These structural imbalances can lead to an uneven distribution of weight, which places undue pressure on the ball of the foot and results in inflammation.
  • Footwear choices: Wearing tight or ill-fitting shoes can increase pressure on the metatarsophalangeal joints, leading to capsulitis. High-heeled shoes are particularly problematic as they shift weight to the front of the foot, putting excessive strain on the joint capsules.
  • Overuse and repetitive activities: Engaging in high-impact sports or activities that involve constant pressure on the front of the foot, such as running or dancing, can strain the ligaments and lead to inflammation over time.
  • Trauma or injury: Direct trauma to the foot, such as stubbing or dropping something heavy on it, can damage the joint capsule and cause capsulitis. Additionally, injuries from accidents or falls may contribute to the development of this condition.


Capsulitis Signs and Symptoms

The primary symptom of capsulitis is pain in the ball of the foot, often described as a sharp or burning sensation. Other common signs and symptoms include:

  • Swelling 
  • Tenderness 
  • Redness
  • Difficulty walking or bearing weight on the affected foot
  • More discomfort walking barefoot on a hard surface compared to walking in shoes.

The pain usually worsens during physical activity or prolonged standing and improves with rest.

    guy with painful feet sitting on bed

    Do You Have Capsulitis?

    If you suspect capsulitis, it is crucial to seek professional help from our podiatrist. During the evaluation, Dr. Bobrowski will examine your foot, review your medical history, and may order diagnostic tests to confirm the diagnosis and rule out other conditions. X-rays may be performed to assess the alignment of the foot and detect any underlying structural abnormalities.

    What are Your Treatment Options for Capsulitis

    The treatment approach for capsulitis aims to reduce pain, and inflammation, and restore proper foot function. Treatment options may include:

    Rest and Activity Modification

    Minimizing weight-bearing activities and avoiding high-impact exercises can help relieve stress on the affected joint. Resting the foot allows the inflammation to subside and promotes healing.

    Shoe Change

    Wearing supportive, properly fitted shoes with a wide toe box can alleviate pressure on the ball of the foot. Shoes with cushioning and shock-absorbing properties can provide additional comfort and reduce stress on the joint capsules.

    Orthotic Devices 

    Custom orthotics prescribed by our podiatrist can provide additional support, cushioning, and realignment to help reduce pain and promote healing. These devices are designed to distribute pressure evenly across the foot and correct any structural imbalances.

    Physical Therapy 

    Targeted exercises and stretches can strengthen the muscles of the foot, improve joint stability, and enhance flexibility. Physical therapy may also include modalities such as ultrasound or electrical stimulation to reduce pain and promote healing.

    Medications and Injections

    Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be prescribed to reduce pain and inflammation. In some cases, corticosteroid injections may be administered to provide temporary relief from severe pain and inflammation.


    In severe cases, immobilization of the foot with a walking boot or a cast may be necessary to allow the joint capsule to heal properly.

    Surgical Intervention

    Surgery is typically considered a last resort when conservative treatments fail to provide relief. Surgical procedures for capsulitis may involve releasing or tightening the affected ligaments, correcting structural abnormalities, or removing inflamed tissue.

      Capsulitis Prevention and Long-Term Care

      To prevent capsulitis and maintain foot health, consider the following:

      • Wear appropriate footwear: Choose shoes that provide adequate support, cushioning, and a wide-toe box. Avoid shoes that are too tight or have high heels, as they can increase pressure on the ball of the foot.
      • Gradual increase in activity levels: Avoid sudden changes in activity levels and gradually increase the intensity and duration of physical activities to prevent overuse injuries.
      • Maintain a healthy weight: Excess body weight puts additional stress on the feet, increasing the risk of developing capsulitis. Maintaining a healthy weight can help minimize pressure on the foot and reduce the likelihood of developing foot conditions.
      • Stretch and strengthen the foot muscles: Regular stretching and strengthening exercises for the foot can improve muscle balance, enhance joint stability, and reduce the risk of capsulitis.
      • Regular check-ups with our podiatrist: Periodic visits with Dr. Bobrowski can help identify any foot abnormalities or imbalances early on and address them before they progress into more severe conditions.

      Capsulitis may be lesser-known than some other foot conditions, but it can cause significant discomfort and hinder your daily life. By understanding its causes, recognizing the symptoms, seeking professional care, and following appropriate treatment plans, you can find relief and take steps toward preventing its recurrence. Remember, Dr. Bobrowski is your partner in foot health, offering personalized treatment options to help you put your best foot forward and enjoy a pain-free life.

      Let Dr. Bobrowski and His Team Help

      If you are experiencing the telltale signs of capsulitis—pain in the ball of the foot, swelling, and difficulty in walking or wearing shoes comfortably—it is essential to seek professional care from a trusted podiatrist. At the InStride-Crystal Coast Podiatry office, our team specializes in diagnosing and treating various foot conditions, including capsulitis.

      By visiting our office, you can benefit from our expertise in understanding and addressing capsulitis. Our podiatrist will conduct a comprehensive evaluation, including a thorough examination and any necessary diagnostic tests, to diagnose your condition accurately. With this knowledge, we can develop a personalized treatment plan tailored to your specific needs, ensuring effective pain relief and successful recovery.

      Do not let capsulitis hold you back. Take the first step towards relief and recovery by scheduling an appointment at the InStride-Crystal Coast Podiatry office today. Our compassionate team is dedicated to providing exceptional care and helping you get back on your feet, pain-free. Trust us to be your partner in foot health, supporting you throughout your journey to optimal well-being.

      Call our office now to schedule your consultation and take control of your foot health. We are here to help you overcome capsulitis and regain your active, pain-free life.