| What is Sesamoiditis?
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What is Sesamoiditis?

What is Sesamoiditis?

Sesamoids are bones that are not connected to joints but are, instead, attached to tendons. There are three of these in the human body. Two of them are at the base of the big toe, while the third is your kneecap.


Inflammation of the tendons in the big toe is called sesamoiditis. This defines this injury in the big toes; however, in the kneecap, the same injury is called tendonitis.


As there are other anatomical structures, there are two causes of sesamoiditis. One of these is blunt trauma. The other is based on long term use, commonly called long term wear and tear. As such, sesamoiditis often afflicts ballet dancers, long-distance runners, baseball catchers who squat day after day behind home plate, and athletes with similar demands on their big toe, which provides strength when walking on your tip-toes and when running and balance for much of the day. Another categorically afflicted group is women who often wear high-heeled shoes.




The first obvious symptom of sesamoiditis is pain in the ball of the foot behind the big toe. This is often the result of inflammation of the tendon. This pain can be sharp and dramatic when the toe reaches a painful place with the tendon stretched. Many with sesamoiditis develop a limp, as the affliction can, but often doesn’t affect both big toes at the same time. If severely inflamed, you might feel the heat in the afflicted area, which may become swollen and red.

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Just like the kneecap, the sesamoid bones of the big toe provide a surface that allows the tendon to move smoothly. Like any other bone, however, the sesamoid bones can fracture or break when traumatized or develop a stress fracture from overuse. An X-ray can tell your physician whether or not the bone or the tendon is the one causing the pain.




Treatment for sesamoiditis frequently includes keeping weight off the afflicted big toe for as long as possible. Other measures also rely on staying away from harmful activity until the healing is complete. (To see a foot doctor in Phoenix Arizona, dial 602-993-2700 for a prompt, professional response to foot pain.)


Here are some options for treatment:


  • Non-steroidal, anti-inflammation medications such as naproxen, ibuprofen, or aspirin can help
  • Rest, rest, and more rest
  • A cold compress can reduce swelling
  • Shoe inserts that offer corrections to your gait
  • Cushion inserts put in your shoes (At Oasis Foot and Ankle Center, doctors will discuss the options for foot orthotics treatment in Phoenix or Scottsdale.)
  • Taping the big to give it more strength and to keep it from bending too much while it heals
  • If your swollen sesamoid bone has a fracture, it may be recommended that you put on a boot to reduce movement while the bone heals.


In Phoenix, Arizona, call Oasis Foot and Ankle Center to finds a team of doctors and nurses ready to help you with sesamoiditis pain and other foot-related ailments. The number to remember for professional care is 602-993-2700.

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