Much like a Hollywood movie, your body is created with a wide cast of “characters” and behind-the-scenes “artists” who enable you to be you. When everything is working as it should, those professionals behind the camera go unnoticed. When you have an issue like sesamoiditis, though, you become introduced to some new cast and crew.

Small Bones in a Starring Role

Here at Pasco-Hernando Foot & Ankle, we think that your feet should get top billing when we talk about the human body. They are comprised of roughly a quarter of all of your bones. The majority of those 52 bones are types that you might normally picture when someone talks about foot structure, but you also have sesamoids, which are quite unique.

Sesamoids are different because they do not connect with other bones in a traditional manner. The biggest sesamoids in your body, and easiest for understanding this difference, are your kneecaps. Your thigh bone connects to the bones in your lower leg, and the knee cap basically sits on top of the joint. In addition to your knees, you can also find sesamoids in your feet. These are tiny bones (think the size of a corn kernel) found directly below your big toes on the bottom of your feet. They allow the tendons down there to move smoothly and also assist with bearing your bodyweight for the first metatarsal bone.

Early Conflict: Sesamoids and Tendonitis

Given the amount of weight placed upon the sesamoids, they endure a tremendous amount of stress and pressure on a regular basis. Your feet are typically equipped to handle a certain degree of force, but sometimes it’s too much. Sesamoiditis develops when the surrounding tissues become inflamed due to irritation in the sesamoid bones. Related to tendonitis, this injury will often have a progressive onset and, when not treated early, may become a chronic condition.

Antagonists Out to Get Your Sesamoids

There are certain risk factors that can increase the possibility of developing this ailment. Runners and dancers are more likely to experience sesamoiditis. Activities like sprinting and dancing place an excessive amount of force on the ball of the foot, including the sesamoids. Other risk factors include:

  • Age, particularly for individuals over 60 years of age
  • Jobs that require a lot of lifting and squatting
  • Wearing high heels, because they put consistent pressure on the forefeet
  • Running up hills, playing catcher in baseball, or playing basketball

There are also hereditary foot conditions and structures —like having high arches—that make it more likely for an individual to experience issues with his or her sesamoids.

The Plot Thickens: Sesamoiditis Symptoms

Recognizing this condition early, so you can seek proper diagnosis and treatment from the professionals in our practice, is key for preventing a chronic problem from developing. Be aware of the following symptoms:

  • Tenderness in the ball of the foot
  • Restricted movement for the big toe
  • Persistent, dull pain in the bottom of your foot, under the big toe
  • Pain under the ball of your foot, depending on footwear and activity

There are conditions that have similar symptoms, like metatarsalgia and turf toe, so be careful and take note of what you are experiencing and when you have pain or discomfort. This will help us to properly diagnose your condition prior to formulating a treatment plan.

A Happy Ending

Fortunately, this condition is often resolved using conservative treatment measures. Rest, ice, cushioned pads, orthotics, physical therapy, and injections that minimize swelling are all parts of an effective treatment plan. There are rare instances when conservative treatments do not provide relief from pain and discomfort, and surgery then becomes an option.

Given that early treatment for sesamoiditis will reduce the risk of it becoming a chronic condition, we encourage you to make an appointment with Pasco-Hernando Foot & Ankle as soon as you start to recognize the symptoms. We have locations in Spring Hill and Bayonet Point, FL to better serve the Pasco and Hernando counties for our patients. You can reach our Spring Hill office by calling (352) 683-5799, or our Bayonet Point location by calling (727) 868-2128, or you can use our online form.