Soothing Second Toe Pain from Capsulitis

Ever had someone, or something, “burst your bubble”? Everything seems to be going well, until a new piece of information or event comes along to turn a happy moment into something frustrating or melancholy.

Ice on foot

Well, something similar (albeit more literal) can happen to your joints, too, particularly the one at the base of your second toe. Most joints feature a “capsule” of ligaments that surround the joint like a bubble and helps keep the bones aligned correctly and moving smoothly. But too much stress and pressure can cause those ligaments to “burst” (or at least become swollen and inflamed), leading to pain in the balls of your feet, difficulty walking, and ultimately (if left untreated) can result in a severe misalignment of the second toe, crossing over the great toe.

Naturally, you’ll want to deal with capsulitis before symptoms become quite so severe. Fortunately, many conservative options exist, including:

  • Rest. Try to stay off your feet for a little while. Avoid wearing high heels or engaging in high-impact exercise. Elevate your foot when sitting or lying down.
  • Ice. A small ice pack wrapped in a towel can help you keep swelling down. Apply for 15-20 minutes at a time, no more than once per hour.
  • New shoes. Specifically, a pair with plenty of “wiggle room” at the front (to avoid cramping your toes) and a stiff sole to restrict flexing and pressure on the affected joint.
  • Shoe inserts or orthotics. Often times, an underlying foot condition (such as flat arches, a bunion, a long second toe, or others) is a significant contributor to capsulitis. Inserts such as arch supports or metatarsal pads can correct for these anomalies and redistribute pressure away from trouble spots.
  • Taping or splinting. A weakened joint may need a little help staying in the correct position.
  • Physical therapy. Certain exercises and stretches can help you strengthen supporting structures or loosen muscles that tug and tear at the capsule.

Once the toe starts crossing over its neighbor, surgery is usually the only viable option. We can help you with that, too, but we’d really like to avoid it if we can—and I’m sure you agree! If you’re suffering from aches and pains in your second toe, call Dr. Keith McSpadden at North Austin Foot & Ankle Institute today. You can reach us at 512-593-2949.

Posted on January 19, 2016 .