Understanding Sesamoiditis

If you’re like most people, you take your feet for granted … until something goes wrong. And since the foot is complex, made up of 26 bones, 33 joints, and over 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments, it's hard to know what’s causing your foot pain. 

When debilitating foot pain strikes, the board-certified physicians and foot pain experts at Town Center Orthopaedic Associates in Centreville and Reston, Virginia, can help. Our providers have the expertise needed to accurately diagnose and treat many foot problems, including a condition called sesamoiditis, a painful problem that often strikes dancers and athletes.

Our team also believes in the power of patient education. Take a look at this informative guide from the providers at Town Center Orthopaedic Associates and learn what you need to know about sesamoiditis. 

The sesamoids explained

Embedded in your feet are two small bones, called the sesamoids. Your kneecap is another sesamoid bone, and the largest in your body. These bones are special because unlike most other bones in your body that connect through joints, the sesamoids attach directly to muscle by tendons. 

The sesamoids in your feet are tiny bones, only about the size of a corn kernel. But these small bones play a big role in helping the tendons in your forefoot move smoothly, making it easier for your foot muscles to transmit force, support your ability to carry out weight-bearing activities, and help your big toe move and lift. 

When the tendons connected to the sesamoid bones in your foot become inflamed, you develop a type of tendonitis referred to as sesamoiditis. 

Understanding sesamoiditis 

Sesamoiditis results when the tendons surrounding the sesamoids at the front of your foot get irritated and inflamed. It's challenging to identify the cause of foot pain, but understanding the symptoms of sesamoiditis can help you know when it’s time to seek medical help.

The most common symptoms of sesamoiditis include:

It’s also possible to fracture the sesamoid bones, but pain related to fractures typically arises suddenly and acutely, while sesamoiditis symptoms build gradually. 

Understanding your risk factors for sesamoiditis

While anyone can develop sesamoiditis, this type of injury is most common in people who engage in physical activities that put them at risk for overuse injuries. Those who put pressure on the ball of their foot are at highest risk, including:

People with high arches also have a greater risk of developing this painful condition. 

What to do if you suspect sesamoiditis

If you have symptoms of sesamoiditis, it’s important to seek medical help. Early detection and treatment greatly improve the speed of your recovery and long-term prognosis. 

At Town Center Orthopaedic Associates, after listening to your symptoms and lifestyle factors, diagnosing sesamoiditis begins with a comprehensive physical exam of your foot. Your provider checks for soreness, tenderness, and inflammation around the ball of your foot. 

They may also move your big toe to check the limits on your toe’s flexibility and ask you about your pain level during certain movements. This helps your provider understand the root cause of your symptoms to accurately diagnose your condition. Your provider may also order imaging studies if necessary. 

Sesamoiditis treatment varies depending on your symptoms and the severity of the condition, and your Town Center Orthopaedic Associates provider customizes a plan specifically for you. Your provider typically begins with the most conservative measures first, including:

Most people find improvement after 6-8 weeks of treatment. For patients who don’t respond to conservative treatments, your provider may recommend cortisone injections, regenerative medicine treatments, and sometimes surgical intervention.

To learn more about sesamoiditis or to get started with a treatment plan, call our office most convenient for you or request an appointment online now!

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