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Sesamoiditis: A Painful Injury in the Ball of the Foot

The foot contains two very small bones, pea-size, under the foot near the big toe. They are unusual in that they are not connected to other bones. Instead they are connected to tendons.

These bones, called sesamoids, help the foot bear weight and also aid the tendons in transferring muscle force over their surfaces. They also help the foot push off in activities like hiking and climbing. Another sesamoid – the largest in the body – is the kneecap or patella.

Sometimes because of overuse the tendons around the sesamoids become irritated or inflamed. This is called sesamoiditis and is often seen in ballet dancers, runners and baseball catchers. Others who may suffer from this condition are individuals who wear high heels, those with high arches and anyone who must stand on hard surfaces for long periods of time.

With sesamoiditis, the pain begins gradually in the ball of the foot and then the big toe can be hard to straighten and bend. You may notice localized swelling and bruising. Sometimes the sesamoid bones will fracture causing immediate serious pain.

Diagnosing and Treating Sesamoiditis

Without proper treatment, sesamoiditis can worsen. If you have pain in the ball of the foot, Stavros O. Alexopoulos, DPM would like to see you. A complete foot examination and x-rays right in our Chicago office will confirm the diagnosis of sesamoiditis.

Non-invasive treatments usually succeed in resolving sesamoid inflammation:

  • Temporarily stop activities that cause you pain.
  • Wear low heeled shoes with soft soles like moccasins or sneakers and reduce stress by adding a cushioning pad to your shoe.
  • Apply ice in a thin towel a few times every day to the sole of your foot.
  • Ibuprofen can relieve inflammation and pain.

If necessary, steroid injections can relieve the swelling.

You can gradually resume your activities but continue extra support under the sesamoids with a foam rubber pad. Avoid activities that put weight on the ball of the foot.

We Can Help Relieve the Pain of Sesamoiditis

Call Dr. Alexopoulos, board certified podiatrist at 773-561-8100 or request an appointment at our Chicago office via the website for relief from the pain of sesamoiditis. We have extensive experience in all types of foot and ankle injuries and conditions. The proper treatment will heal your foot completely and eliminate pain and discomfort.