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Richardson Podiatry Center

Pain in Your Big Toe

It is widely understood that an adult human has a total of 206 bones in the body, but this isn’t entirely accurate. When that number is used, it doesn’t take into account some of the bones that are known as sesamoids. These might not be commonly known, but when they are injured and cause painful symptoms, you will quickly become familiar with them—and with sesamoiditis.

An Introduction to Sesamoid Bones

pain on top of footThese bones are unique in the skeletal structure because they are not connected to other bones in a conventional manner. The best example of this is found at your knees. Whereas the bones of the upper and lower legs connect to each other, the kneecaps (the largest sesamoid bones in your body) essentially sit on the joints. Kneecaps might be the most obvious example, but they certainly aren’t the only ones in the body.

In addition to the ones found on your knees, you also have tiny ones found directly underneath each of the big toes on the underside of your feet. These small, round bones are roughly the size of a kernel of corn and help allow tendons in the area to move smoothly. They are also responsible for helping assist with the bearing of your bodyweight, which takes pressure off of the first metatarsal bone.

Sesamoids and Tendonitis

Since they are taking pressure away from the metatarsal bone, these small bones face a great amount of pressure and stress on a regular basis. Feet are naturally equipped to handle a certain amount of force, but when it’s too much they can become fractured or irritated. In these instances, the surrounding tendons often become inflamed as a result, and the condition is known as sesamoiditis. As with tendonitis, the injury has a progressive onset and can develop into chronic condition when not treated at an early stage.

Sesamoiditis Risk Factors

There are various activities and risk factors that make it more likely for someone to develop this conditions. Dancer and runners are particularly prone to this injury due to the forces these activities place on the forefoot. Other potential risk factors include:

  • Age – The condition is more prevalent for those over 60 years of age.
  • Occupation – Jobs that require frequent squatting or heavy lifting are more likely to cause issues.
  • Footwear – High heels and other shoes that place consistent pressure onto the area at the front of the foot are especially problematic.
  • Physical activity – Playing basketball, being a catcher in a game of baseball or softball, and running up hills are all activities commonly associated with this condition.

Certain foot structures and hereditary conditions, like having high arches, also make the condition more likely to occur.

Symptoms of Sesamoid Problems

top of foot painBeing able to recognize the symptoms can help lead to early diagnosis and treatment, which is instrumental for reducing the risk of developing a chronic condition. Symptoms include:

  • Restricted big toe movement
  • Tenderness in the ball of the foot area
  • Dull, persistent pain and discomfort under the big toe at the bottom of the foot
  • Swelling and inflammation

Given that some conditions, like turf toe and metatarsalgia, have similar symptoms, it is important to come in for an accurate diagnosis if you are experiencing any of these warning signs.

Sesamoiditis Treatment at Richardson Podiatry Associates

The good news with this condition is that it can often be resolved effectively with the use of nonsurgical treatment measures. Rest, ice, physical therapy, orthotics, cushioned pads, and corticosteroid injections are all potential components of a treatment plan for you. In rare cases, conservative methods are not enough to adequately relieve the pain. At that point, surgery will probably be an option we need to discuss.

Keep in mind that early treatment is your best bet for keeping sesamoiditis from becoming a chronic condition. Be sure to come visit us here at Richardson Podiatry Associates as soon as your realize something is wrong. Call our Richardson, TX office at (972) 690-5374 or fill out our online form to schedule your appointment with our expert staff.