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853 Jefferson Ave
Washington, PA, 15301

Podiatrist - Washington
853 Jefferson Ave
Washington, PA 15301
(724) 225-7410
(724) 225-9469 - fax

When Your Toe Joint Cries Out

Aching joints can make even the smallest of daily tasks a challenge. When it happens in your foot, the discomfort can limit your ability to work, exercise and simply enjoy the activities you love to do. When foot pain is caused by capsulitis, the best time to treat it is right at the start. Dr. Philip Pinsker can relieve your symptoms before they truly become a hindrance in your life.

What is Capsulitis?

Capsulitis can actually affect any joint in your body but in the foot it typically involves the second, third or fourth toes. There is essentially a “capsule” where ligaments form around the joint at the base of a toe. This condition develops when these ligaments become inflamed.

This condition is frequently caused by pre-existing problems in your feet or abnormal mechanics that put unusual pressure on the affected joint. The ball of the foot tends to endure a great amount of stress, making these toe joints vulnerable to this type of injury. Other causes for capsulitis include having a severe bunion that alters the way your foot is able to distribute pressure, wearing footwear like high heels that don’t support your feet and put pressure on your toes, and having a second toe longer than the first, tight calf muscles, or a weak arch.

Despite the cause, the result is always the same – pain and discomfort. Our patients often experience pain and swelling in the ball of the foot. It is common to feel as though you are walking on a small pebble. It may be difficult to wear shoes comfortably or walk barefoot around your home.

How is it Treated?

As with many foot and ankle conditions and injuries, early treatment is the best setup for success. Capsulitis has the best outcome when treatment is applied before the ligaments have weakened and cannot stabilize the joint any longer. After an examination to confirm the diagnosis, Dr. Philip Pinsker will evaluate the best course of treatment depending on the nature and severity of the inflammation. The primary goal will be to get weight off the forefoot and then address symptoms. Rest and ice are often the first lines of defense in an effort to reduce inflammation and pain. We may also recommend anti-inflammatory medication to lesson your symptoms.

If the toe joint has become unstable, taping may be used to keep it in correct alignment. Stretching exercises for tight calf muscles and shoe modifications are both beneficial forms of treatment as well. Shoes with stiff soles in particular can help take the pressure off the ball of the foot. Custom orthotics are also often used to distribute pressure on the foot and provide extra support. We typically reserve surgical intervention for cases that do not respond to conservative treatment methods.

Can I Prevent This?

It is very possible to avoid this foot problem altogether by taking diligent care of your feet and making wise choices. Avoid wearing high heels and shoes with tight toe boxes. A severe bunion deformity can lead to capsulitis and these types of shoes will only aggravate a bunion problem. Wear good, supportive shoes that fit your feet well and accommodate any structural problems or deformities that you may have.

Custom orthotics are a great option to give your feet the cushioning and support they need and deserve – even if you don’t have foot pain. If you are an athlete, wearing the right shoe for the sport you are involved in with custom orthotics will greatly reduce your chance of developing this injury. Most importantly, do not ignore any symptoms. If you notice pain developing, allow us to diagnose exactly what is going on so we can get you on the right path of treatment quickly.

This is a progressive disorder. Delaying treatment of capsulitis could leave you with unstable joints, the development of hammertoes, and chronic pain. If you have these symptoms, contact us for treatment before the situation gets out of hand. Make an appointment with Dr. Philip Pinsker at our office in Washington, PA by calling (724) 225-7410.