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853 Jefferson Ave
Washington, PA 15301
(724) 225-7410
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By Philip S. Pinsker, DPM PC
January 05, 2016
Tags: Sesamoiditis  

In the ball of your foot, near the big toe are two little bones called sesamoids. Sesamoids are bones that are not connected to other bones but rather are attached to tendons. There are only a few of them in your entire body. In your foot, they are embedded in the tendon that connects your first metatarsal bone to your big toe. They are very important in the action of your foot pushing off the ground. When all works smoothly, the sesamoids act like pulleys, enabling locomotion to take place. When something happens, however, to make the sesamoids become inflamed and irritated, then a painful condition called sesamoiditis occurs.

What are the Signs of Sesamoiditis?

A pain in the ball of your foot and the big toe are the first symptoms of sesamoiditis. At Philip S. Pinsker, patients report that the pain usually comes on gradually and may be off and on for a while depending on activity level and footwear. Eventually, however, the pain becomes more constant and there is swelling and bruising around the big toe. As time goes on, it may become more difficult to bend and straighten the big toe. If you suddenly experience a sharp pain in the affected area, it could be a sign that one of the sesamoids has actually fractured.

Causes and Treatment

Overuse and repetitive stress on the ball of the foot are the causes of sesamoiditis. Activities that put excessive pressure on this part of the foot include: football, basketball, tennis, running, ballet and gymnastics. The first step in treating sesamoiditis is confirming the diagnosis. Our board certified podiatrist, Philip S. Pinsker, D.P.M. will start by taking a complete medical history, examining your toe and foot and asking questions about your symptoms and activities. There are other foot disorders with similar symptoms that the foot doctor will need to rule out. Most likely x-rays will be ordered (which can be done in our Washington office) to see if the sesamoid is fractured.

Once the diagnosis is confirmed, there are several non-invasive ways of relieving the pressure on the sesamoids, including:

  • Rest and avoiding activities that aggravate the sesamoids for a period of time to prevent further damage and allowing healing to occur
  • Anti-inflammatory medications and icing to reduce swelling and inflammation
  • Padding and custom orthotics to cushion and protect the affected area
  • Physical therapy

Sesamoiditis is easiest to treat when caught early. Walking, exercising and playing on a foot with sesamoiditis will cause the condition to worsen. If you have symptoms, don’t delay. Make an appointment as soon as possible by calling (724) 225-7410.

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