The painful condition, Sesamoiditis, is a form of tendonitis that occurs when your sesamoid bones and the surrounding tendons become inflamed. These two pea-sized bones are embedded in the tendons at the base of the big toe, directly beneath the joint. They support the tendons in controlling the movement of the toe by giving them extra strength and functionality.
(You also have sesamoid bones in your hands and knees, but sesamoiditis only affects the feet. This article refers to sesamoids in the feet).
What Causes Sesamoiditis?
Sesamoid bones and their tendons are constantly under intense pressure. They act as shock absorbers when you walk, run, jump or do any repetitive activity. They don’t get a lot of time off so irritation and inflammation can easily arise.
Sesamoids in the feet must deal with an additional burden. Most bones in the body connect to adjacent bones. This gives them extra stability and strength. Sesamoids only attach to their surrounding tendons creating constant friction between tendon and bone, thus increasing the possibility for problems to occur.
Who Does this Affect?
Sesamoiditis is an overuse issue, so anyone who places their feet under excessive or unnatural pressure is susceptible – for example, athletes, dancers or high-heel wearers.
However, you don’t have to be doing a specific activity to suffer. If you have flat feet, high arches or poor posture, you’re continually causing pressure in all the wrong places.
These activities all involve repetitive movements – a situation that always has the potential to cause problems.
What Are the Symptoms?
This condition tends to emerge gradually, which can be a bit of a problem. It makes it all too easy to ignore the situation in the early stages. This is a big mistake as sesamoiditis doesn’t fix itself – it only gets worse.
At first, you’ll only experience a mild ache under your big toe, but if left untreated this gets considerably worse. You may even struggle to walk. Your toe could become red and swollen and can appear to be bruised. It will also be very difficult, if not impossible, to bend the affected toe.
You should investigate any sudden pain or changes in the appearance of your feet or toes. Sesamoiditis has the potential to lead to bone fractures in severe cases, but this can be prevented with early treatment.
How to Treat Sesamoiditis
This varies depending on the cause so it’s important to find the right approach for you. Here are some ways to deal with the problem (and ice is good, whoever you are!).
- Rest Your Foot. It’s imperative you stop doing the activity that’s overstressing your toe. Try to keep as much pressure off your foot as you can.
- Reduce Inflammation. Applying ice is great for easing pain and reducing inflammation. Use an icepack or even a bag of frozen peas. Wrap your ice in a towel to avoid ice burn.
- Restrict and Support. Your podiatrist can strap the big toe to restrict movement and relieve pressure.
- Orthotics. These provide cushioning and stability. They also redistribute your weight to adjust poor posture and direct pressure away from the painful areas. These can be particularly helpful for flat feet and high arches.
- Anti-inflammatories or steroid injections may be appropriate to alleviate swelling and pain.
Help and Support at Feet By Pody
Don’t wait for small niggles to become major problems. Talk to an experienced podiatrist at one of our London clinics. We look forward to seeing you.