Sesamoiditis – How to Identify a Sesamoid Injury

Sesamoid injuries in the foot

Sesamoids are bones that grow within the tendons. This phenomenon occurs commonly in the hands and feet, but a commonly known sesamoid bone is the kneecap, or patella. The inflammation of the tendons is called sesamoiditis, and it happens at the ball of the foot. Inflammation extends from the tendons to the bones because of the connective structures.

This blog covers sesamoiditis injuries in-depth, but there are other conditions relating to sesamoid bone injury. These include:

  • Fractures: breaks in the sesamoid bone which can range from being acute to chronic
    • Acute fractures are classified by a sudden trauma injury which can result in a hairline fracture, but does not affect the entire big toe joint
    • Chronic fractures of sesamoid come and go with the pain of the big toe joint, and such pain can be alleviated with proper rest
  • Turf toe: in which the tissue surrounding the big toe joint is injured, which in turn, restricts the mobility of the big toe
  • Sesamoiditis: the inflammation of the sesamoid bones which causes pain at the ball of the foot, with continuous pain that can be treated if the problem is addressed

Sesamoiditis: Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

There are a number of indicators that can differentiate sesamoiditis from other conditions. Symptoms of sesamoiditis include:

  • Pain surrounding or beneath the big toe
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Difficulty transferring weight from each foot
  • Difficulty walking
  • FInding it hard to bend the big toe

Diagnosing sesamoiditis can be done by assessing the tenderness of the sesamoid bones. Certain movements of your foot may be asked to be conducted, and based on your difficulty performing the task or the pain that comes along with it, your physician can draw conclusions about your condition. X-rays may also be taken to confirm an expert’s hypothesis, and to get a better understanding of the severity of the situation. Sometimes, differences aren’t as noticeable, and therefore, you may have to perform detailed scans with the use of MRI or CT.

To treat sesamoiditis, there are many nonsurgical options available to help alleviate the pain. These include:

  • Using the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, elevation)
  • Taking antiinflammatory medication such as ibuprofen (Advil or Tylenol)
  • Wearing comfortable and supportive footwear (custom-made orthotics helps greatly in this case)
  • Wearing soft soles instead of rigid or stiff ones
  • Avoiding activities straining the ball of your foot and your big toe
  • Using orthotics to help support you during the recovery period – custom support wear can be designed to avoid strain on your affected foot areas

Painful sesamoid of the great toe – NCBI

Management of sesamoiditis will vary from person to person because of the variability in the development of the sesamoids at the great toe. Radiologists and advanced imaging techniques can help in diagnosing sesamoid pain. An article published by the NCBI gives information on the usefulness of the sesamoid bone of the great toe and how to manage sesamoid pain.

The sesamoid bone is primarily responsible for weight distribution and keeps us balanced. When you overuse this bone that already is bearing lots of weight, there is recurring pain and can impact your gait. Some risk factors include: running, activities requiring jumping from high places, ballet, wearing heels or arch-shaped footwear, or wearing unsupportive footwear. Some methods of diagnosing sesamoiditis are: isotope bone scans, radiographs, and MRI technology. Through this diagnosis, a health expert can go into detail on the specifics of your condition.

To manage painful sesamoids, you may be given sterile injections along with orthotics and padding to address the problem of uncomfortable and unsupportive footwear. Rarely, surgery is required, but if serious, you may be referred to a surgeon. Always consult health professionals, even if the sesamoid pain seems small.

What does sesamoiditis feel like?

If you feel pain at the ball of your foot, you can likely expect that to be sesamoiditis. The longer you’re on your feet, the more your pain will increase along with the possibility of bruising or swelling. If you have a fracture, the pain will kick in right away rather than build gradually. Remember to not overuse your sesamoids or feet to avoid discomfort. Take a break after periods of strain.

How many sesamoid bones are in the human body?

For starters, the largest sesamoid bone is associated with the patella. There are also two sesamoid bones with the head in the first metacarpal, then another two with the first metatarsal. Within each foot, there are two small sesamoid bones, making another four. Then within each hand, there are five sesamoid bones. There are differences of opinion on one sesamoid bone found in the neck, but many claim it is not considered a sesamoid bone. Overall, the main takeaway is that sesamoid bones are prevalent in your hands and feet, and their functions are essential.

What is the best way to fix a broken sesamoid bone?

If you have a fractured sesamoid bone, doctors and surgeons usually turn to conservative methods of treatment, which is orthotics. Through the use of orthotic devices and customized shoes, the fracture can heal when the right footwear and equipment are used in conjunction. Typically, a sole that is stiff works in this case. Other times, braces or casts may be required. Orthotics provides a variety of options to accommodate the patient’s needs. Remember, orthotics can definitely be comfortable and trendy, but most importantly, meet your foot’s needs.

If you are experiencing pain in your foot or you suspect that you have sesamoiditis, give us a call today at 289-245-6624 to book an appointment with the best foot specialists in Burlington!

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