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Sesamoiditis Overview

Experiencing a painful sensation in the ball of your foot, just behind your big toe?  You may very well be suffering from Sesamoiditis.  This ailment is generally defined by pain and inflammation to the sesamoid bones and surrounding tendons and tissue.  The bones themselves are positioned just behind the big toe and above the ball of the foot.  Common complaints of those who suffer from sesamoiditis are pain just behind the big toe, intermittent swelling of the ball of the foot, intermittent pain and pain during walking, running or jumping.  Given the fact that the culprits are two small bones that reside within the ball of the foot, the disease is most common in those who run frequently, dance, squat or wear high heeled shoes.  If you find yourself experiencing pain of this type, and you do one of the aforementioned activities on a frequent basis, aim to reduce the frequency as soon as possible.  Recognizing the symptoms early and treating the affected area with home remedies may just save you more expensive or even surgical repairs down the road.  In order to further zero in on whether you are suffering from sesamoiditis or not, look for these symptoms: Sesamoiditis generally comes on slowly, with slight pain occurring infrequently and then growing both in intensity and frequency as time moves on.  If you feel that you are experiencing a dull painful sensation when extending your big toe upward, or performing any of the above tasks, begin a home remedy regimen right away.  If however you got here too late and you are experiencing chronic pain, expect chronic inflammation of the sesamoid bone region, swelling and a general sense if discomfort while walking, running or jumping.  You can still try out some of our home relief product recommendations, however a trip to the physician is likely in order.

What is a Sesamoid Bone?

Now that you know a bit about the disease itself, let’s understand the Sesamoid Bones a little better.  Once we understand the purpose of the bones it will be easier to grasp the gravity of an injury to this area.

The sesamoid is a bone that is embedded within a tendon.  Sesamoid bones are found in a number of joints in the body, but tend to flare up mostly in the foot.  The typical foot holds two sesamoid bones, small in stature (the size of a bean) and located around the ball of the foot, just behind the first metatarsal of the big toe.sesamoid bone

The sesamoid bone acts as a pulley for the tendons that surround the big toe.  They assist the big toe to move normally and assist in the act of “pushing off.”  The sesamoid bone also serves as a weight bearing bone for the first metatarsal (which is the long bone that is connected to the big toe).  The bones themselves in turn provide important shock absorption when weight is placed upon the ball of the foot while running or walking.  For a more in depth description, check out our sesamoid bone page which provides an anatomical overview of the bones themselves and their function.

Are You at Risk?

As mentioned, there are a number of factors that may put you at higher risk of developing sesamoiditis.  Runners are a high risk group due to the consistent pressure that is placed upon the ball of the foot while running.  If you are a runner, be sure to keep a close eye on the area just behind your big toe.  If you begin to experience even a dull pain, you may want to begin using metatarsal pads or arch support while running.  There are other warning signs however, take a look below:

Do you have a job that requires you to squat frequently?  Most of us don’t work behind the plate for the New York Yankees, but a lot of people work for extended periods of time in a squatting position.  Any type of work that requires prolonged squatting puts direct pressure on the sesamoid bone region, thereby increasing the risk that you will eventually endure some sort of ball of foot pain.  If this is you, consider kneeling with proper knee pads rather than squatting.

Are you a dancer who spends a lot of time on the ball of your foot while performing?  You are in a high risk group as well.  There are pads specifically built for you which come highly recommended.  Padding the ball of your foot BEFORE the onset of pain will go a long way in helping to reduce your overall pain profile.

Are you over the age of 60?  If so, you are also at a higher risk of sesamoiditis.  Age related causes include arthritis and osteochondritis.  As you age, the odds that the small bones within your foot will be affected by one of these conditions increases.  The close proximity of these bones to the tendons and tissue that surround them exacerbates the inflammation and changes caused by arthritis specifically.

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