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Metatarsal-Phalageal Joint (MTP) Capsulitis


What is it?


Capsulitis is inflammation of the capsule of the joint. The capsule is the fluid filled outer covering that joins two bones together. The most common capsules to get inflamed are the capsules of the metatarsalphalangeal (MTP) joints in the ball of the foot. The most common of these 5 capsules to get inflamed is the capsule of the 2nd MTP.


What are the symptoms?


People who have MTP joint capsulitis commonly complain of pain, swelling and the sensation of “walking on a stone” affecting the ball of the ball of the foot.


What causes it?


There are many factors that may contribute to this problem: having either a short 1st or long 2nd metatarsal, having a hammer toe deformity, bunions, wearing high heeled shoes or having tight calf muscles.


What to do at home


Rest from any activity that causes pain.  Ice the painful area for 15 minutes several times per day.  Try and avoid high heels and thin-soled shoes and instead wear a shoe with lots of cushioning (a trainer is perfect).  Stretch your calf muscles.


When to seek help


If your symptoms persist for more than a few days despite following the advice above.


How is it treated?


Orthoses (insoles) specially designed to reduce the stress on the painful joints are very successful in treating this condition.  Sometimes, where more conservative treatment fails, steroid injection or referral to an orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeon may be considered.



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