Do you experience pain under your big toe or on the ball of your foot? Does it hurt to bend or straighten your big toe? You might be experiencing sesamoiditis, a condition that affects the small bones (sesamoids) in your foot.

Sesamoids are tiny bones, about the size of a kernel of corn, that are connected only to tendons or embedded in muscles. They are found in only a few places in the human body, one of which is the foot. Two sesamoids are located in the underside of the forefoot near the big toe. These bones provide a smooth surface over which tendons slide, increasing the ability of tendons to transmit muscle forces. They also assist with weight-bearing and help elevate the bones of the big toe.

Sesamoiditis is a form of tendonitis that occurs when the tendons surrounding the sesamoids become irritated or inflamed. It is a common condition among ballet dancers, runners, and baseball catchers because of the pressures placed on their feet. If left untreated, sesamoiditis can lead to a fractured sesamoid.

Symptoms of sesamoiditis include pain under the big toe or on the ball of the foot, swelling and bruising, and difficulty and pain in bending and straightening the big toe. If you experience these symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention to prevent further damage.

Treatment for sesamoiditis typically includes discontinuation of the activity causing the pain and inflammation, as well as over-the-counter pain medications and anti-inflammatories, such as ibuprofen and aspirin. However, it is important to consult your physician before taking any medications.

Icing the sole of the foot and wearing shoes that are soft-soled and low-heeled can also help relieve symptoms. Using cushioning in shoes to relieve stress and injection of a steroidal medication to reduce swelling may also be recommended.

If symptoms persist, you may need to wear a removable brace on the leg for 4-6 weeks to give the inflammation time to subside and the bones to heal. Surgery is rarely required to treat sesamoiditis.

If you believe that you are experiencing sesamoiditis, it is important to seek medical attention from a qualified provider. Dr. Gilbert Huang DPM is a podiatrist with extensive experience in treating conditions of the foot, including sesamoiditis. Don’t wait until symptoms worsen; schedule an appointment with Dr. Huang today to get the relief you need.

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