Summer Blog Series: Lesser MTP Joint Pain

August 23, 2012 Posted by Dr.Chang

MTP joints, or metatarsal-phalangeal joints, are joints that connect your mid foot to your toes. There are a variety of lesser MTP joint injuries and pain that commonly occur. Capsulitis (also predislocation syndrome) is inflammation in the ligaments surrounding the joint at the base of the second toe that form a “capsule” to help the joint function properly. Capsulitis can occur at the joints of the third and fourth toes as well, and is caused by abnormal foot mechanics, where the ball of the foot beneath the toe joint bears an excessive amount of weight and pressure. Capsulitis is a progressive disorder, so see your podiatrist for an early diagnosis and treatment.

Fifth metatarsal fractures, along the bone on the outside of the foot, are of two more common types: Avulsion Fractures, in which a part of the bone is pulled off from the main part, usually caused by an ankle roll, and a Jones Fracture, which occurs when the area does not receive enough blood, causing difficulties in bone healing. Both fractures will lead to pain, swelling, tenderness, difficulty walking and possible bruising. Your podiatrist will recommend a variety of treatments, including RICE, immobilization, bone stimulation and even surgery in cases with dislocations, multiple breaks or when other treatment fails to improve the injury.

Tailor’s bunion, or a bunionette, is a prominence at the fifth metatarsal bone at the base of the little toe. It is often an inherited trait, is easy for your podiatrist to diagnose, and requires a treatment of shoe modifications, padding, NSAIDs, icing, injection therapy, over the counter or custom made orthotics, and even surgery in severe cases when other treatments fail to improve it.

For all lesser MTP joint pain, contrary to how comforting soft fluffy shoes might seem, wearing rigid shoes with good shock absorption will help the most. Offloading painful joint with a shoe insert appropriate for your injury or condition will help. Shoes like Sketcher’s Shape Ups or Dansko clogs are unforgiving, taking pressure off different parts of the foot. Visit your local podiatrist and shoe salesmen for recommendations!

 

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