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Capsulitis refers to inflammation of the joint capsule. In the foot the joint capsule of the metatarsophalangeal joints are affected the most; these are the joints that form the ball of the foot.

Capsulitis of the foot can be painful, and as result it can make walking and everyday activities uncomfortable. If you think you have capsulitis visit one of our podiatrists who will be able to help.

What is capsulitis?

Capsulitis of the foot can occur at any joint, however the joints that form the ball of the foot are the ones that are affected the most. These joints are called metatarsophalangeal joints, they are the joints where the metatarsals (the long bones that go from the middle of the foot to the base of the toes) meet the toe; each foot has five of these joints. Capsulitis of the foot typically affects the second metatarsophalangeal joint (the one next to the big toe).

Capsulitis refers to inflammation of the joint capsule. A joint capsule surrounds the connecting part of two joints and is filled with a slippery fluid called synovium. The synovium acts as a lubricator and allows the joint to move freely. Sometimes the joint capsule can become damaged and when this happens is can become inflamed ' this is capsulitis.

What causes capsulitis?

Capsulitis has a variety of causes, for example:

  • Poor biomechanics (leading to too much pressure at the ball of the foot)
  • Injury/trauma
  • Footwear (e.g. high heeled shoes)
  • Certain medical conditions, for example, rheumatoid arthritis

What are the signs and symptoms of capsulitis?

The signs and symptoms of capsulitis may include:

  • Swelling beneath the ball of the foot
  • Pain
  • Redness around the joint

How is capsulitis diagnosed?

Our podiatrists will be able to diagnose capsulitis. It is important to visit a podiatrist as capsulitis can mimic other conditions. Often capsulitis is misdiagnosed as a Morton's neuroma, which is treated very differently.

Benefits of podiatry for capsulitis

If you have capsulitis podiatry will benefit you. At once you have been assessed and a management plan has been put into place you can expect to achieve the following benefits:

  • Reduction in inflammation
  • Reduction in pain
  • Improvement in foot function
  • Improvement in gait
  • Improvement in comfort
Benefits are achieved by first dealing with the acute symptoms, such as inflammation and pain. The next stage is to address the cause, which may be attributed to, for example, footwear or poor lower limb mechanics.

What would podiatry for capsulitis involve?

A podiatrist at would begin by taking a thorough history, which would include your past medical history as well as a history of the problem itself. Our podiatrists will then use this information, along with a thorough examination of the area to form a diagnosis. Once a diagnosis of capsulitis has been decided the following treatment options may be considered:

The aim of treatment is to reduce inflammation and pain by offloading the area that is painful.


Capsulitis refers to inflammation of the joint capsule. In the foot the joint capsules that are most commonly affected are those of the metatarsophalangeal joints (these form the ball of the foot); this is where the metatarsal meets the toe. The second toe is affected the most.

Capsulitis of the foot has a variety of causes, however too much pressure at the ball of the foot is typically to blame. Too much pressure may be attributed to, for example, poor biomechanics, injury or footwear.

If you have capsulitis you will experience pain and swelling at the point where the metatarsal meets the toe. A podiatrist will be able to perform a number of tests in order to diagnose capsulitis, which will involve an examination of the area. One of our podiatrists will then devise a treatment plan specific to you, the aim of which will be to reduce any pain and inflammation so that you can continue with your daily activities comfortably.

To arrange an assessment with one our podiatrists please email or call 0330 088 4222.

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