Sesamoiditis

Robert G. Parker
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Dr. Parker is a podiatrist and surgeon in Houston, TX who has been helping patients for more than 40 years.

Ball of foot painEliminating Ball of the Foot Pain

Tip-toeing, landing a jump, and doing a waltz all require foot power. In fact, the ball of the foot supports a lot of weight and helps you move forward. Without it, your steps would be a lot less powerful. This area is where the metatarsal bones meet your toes. The strongest part of it, where you put the most weight, is under the big toe joint. The structures there are specially designed to provide strength when you want to take a step. When that area becomes irritated, as in the case of sesamoiditis, it’s not only uncomfortable, it can limit your activities.

Small Bones, Great Power

The sesamoids are two small bones situated in the joint area under the big toe. They are actually embedded in the tendon that attaches that first metatarsal to the toe bone, acting as an extra lever much like the knee cap does. They allow the joint to move smoothly and pull powerfully so that you are able to use your toe to push off the ground when you step. Sesamoiditis develops when the tendon around those little bones becomes inflamed and swollen.

This irritation makes it very uncomfortable to use the ball of the foot. It appears gradually as the affected structures become more inflamed. Over time, the ball of the foot aches with increasing intensity until it reaches a deep throbbing that can keep you from your activities. This condition seems to be related to frequent impacts and overuse, so it’s fairly common in active people. However, if the pain occurs suddenly and sharply, it’s possible you actually fractured one of the little bones.

Eliminating the Pain

While uncomfortable, this condition doesn’t have to keep you from doing the activities you enjoy. It can be treated very successfully using noninvasive measures. When you come to an appointment with this kind of pain, Dr. Robert Parker will evaluate your feet thoroughly to determine the exact cause. He may request certain tests or diagnostic images to check for fractures as well. Once sesamoiditis has been confirmed, he will work with you to create a plan for recovery.

Start by relieving the irritation, which will help to eliminate the discomfort. Rest your foot for a while so the pressure on the sesamoids is reduced. Icing the area and taking anti-inflammatory medications can help lower the swelling. Wear flatter shoes that don’t put unnecessary pressure on the front of the foot, too. You may need extra padding to cushion the ball of the foot while it heals, so an orthotic might help. Prescription inserts can also correct any preexisting problems with your foot’s mechanics that might have led to the pain in the first place. If the discomfort is very persistent, or if one of the little bones fractured, you may need to wear a protective boot until the problem resolves.

If you’re experiencing ball of the foot pain, it could be sesamoiditis. The inflammation tends to get worse over time, so don’t ignore the problem. Rather than let it control your mobility and limit your activities, contact the experts at Parker Foot & Ankle for an appointment or more information and take care of your pain. Call (281) 497-2850, or visit the website contact page to reach us.