Sesamoid Pain

What are Sesamoids?

Sesamoids are two tiny bones that at the base of big toe at the area where it forms a joint with the ball of the foot. The merging point of the big toe, the foot ball, and the sesamoid bones act as a fulcrum for the toe flexors that help bend the big toe. They absorb the pressure on the sole of the foot during processes like walking, running or standing. They give the foot muscles extra power and leverage and help ease the friction in the soft tissues under the big toe joint.

What is Sesamoid Pain?

Sesamoid Pain or Sesamoiditis develops when the tissues around the sesamoid bones become inflamed.

Causes of Sesamoid Pain

Sesamoid pain can occur due to repeatedly moving the toes in a same way. This happens at times during dancing or running around. Sometimes Fractures, stress fractures, Arthritis also result in the development of Sesamoid pains.

Symptoms of Sesamoid Pain

Sesamoiditis results in a vague pain at the joint where sesamoid bones are located. That is somewhere at the point where big toe and foot ball join. With sesamoiditis the movement of the big toe gets limited. When you stretch your big toe upwards you will be able to notice the pain. People also occasionally suffer from joint catches. Some people also feel numbness in the web between the big toe and the next toe.

Diagnosis of Sesamoid Pain

Diagnosis will involve the examination of your big toe and your foot ball by the doctor followed by some general questions regarding your foot or joint problems in the past. Then the doctor might order an X-ray which would give the doctor a clear picture of the sesamoid bones.

Treatment of Sesamoid Pain

Treatment for Sesamoid pain can either be surgical or non-surgical. Non-surgical treatment involves the administration of anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and aspirin. Some doctors treat Sesamoiditis like fractures by placing the foot in a cast for about 4-6 weeks. Otherwise the patient will be advised to wear a shoe with a stiff sole until the pain goes away.

If the case gets complicated surgical options are availed. The surgeon may remove a part or one sesamoid bone.  When one sesamoid bone is removed the other will provide the fulcrum point. Surgeons generally avoid taking both the sesamoids out because the loss of both sesamoids will cause the loss of necessary leverage making it difficult for the foot to function.  Some cases would also require scraping or grafting of the sesamoids.