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Suffering Sesamoids! When Sesamoiditis Sets In

SesamoidYour hip bone’s connected to your…leg bone, your leg bone’s connected to your…ankle bone, you’re ankle bone’s connected to your…remember singing that song to learn all the bones in your body? Well there are some bones that didn’t make it in the lyrics!

Sesamoid bones are not like any others, because instead of connecting at a joint, they are attached to tendons and embedded in muscle. Their job is to provide a smooth surface for tendons to slide over in order to transmit muscle force. Sesamoids aren’t completely different than other bones, though. One thing that is the same is their vulnerability to fractures. Even if they don’t break, the surrounding tissues can become irritated, causing pain and inflammation. This is a condition called sesamoiditis.

Those in the Hall of Pain

Two, tiny sesamoid bones are found underneath the great (big) toe on either side of it. They help the toe move and push off with each step, as well as absorb weight placed on the ball of the foot. Sesamoid injuries that occur in this area can cause swelling and tenderness, and sometimes even bruising. Pain is focused on the ball of the foot near the big toe and can result in stiffness and an inability to bend the joint.

This condition is common among runners, basketball players, ballet dancers, and baseball catchers—those that use and bend their toes a lot! Football and soccer players who are sidelined by turf toe are actually suffering from a form of sesamoiditis as well. This injury occurs when the big toe extends beyond its normal range, damaging the tissues around the joint, including those attached to the sesamoids.

If you have high arches or are fond of high heels, you too are susceptible, since both place excessive stress on your forefoot.

Take a Time OutSesamoiditis

Treating sesamoid injuries begins with stopping the activity that is causing the pain. No athlete likes to hear that, but if you continue, the condition will only get worse and sideline you even longer. Anti-inflammatory medications can help relieve pain and icing the area can reduce swelling. Also, putting cushioned pads over the affected area or in your shoes can alleviate pressure when you bear weight.  You should return to activity slowly. Physical therapy exercises can help restore range of motion and strength. You can also try orthotic inserts to redistribute weight and pressure placed on the ball of your foot. If you attempt all this, yet pain persists, there are surgical procedures that can be performed.

If you are experiencing pain on the underside of your big toe and the ball of your foot, let us determine if it is seamoiditis so that we can stop the suffering and get you back in the game as soon as possible. Call (512) 328-8900 to make an appointment with Dr. Craig H. Thomajan DPM, FACFAS or Dr. Shine John, DPM, FACFAS today, or visit us at Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists in Austin, TX. You can also reach us online and on Facebook!

Dr. Craig H. Thomajan, DPM, FACFAS, FAENS
Founder and Managing Partner of Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists