Sesamoiditis: When The Ball Of Your Foot Is Hurting
It’s a funny name for something that is anything but funny when you’ve got it: sesamoiditis, aching, burning pain in the ball of your foot. The condition is named for the tiny sesamoid bones, two per foot and each about the size of a kernel of unpopped popcorn, that help you flex your foot and go up on your tiptoe.
Like any bone, the tiny sesamoid can fracture and if that happens the tendon that surrounds it can become inflamed, leading to a form of tendonitis. No surprise, sesamoiditis is very common in people who go up on their toes a lot—ballet dancers, baseball catchers, runners, volleyball players, and people who wear high-heeled shoes.
Sesamoiditis is painful–you’ll know something is wrong before you know what‘s causing the pain, and you’ll want to seek your podiatrist’s help as soon as you can. The first thing your doctor will ask you to do is bend and straighten your big toe to see how tender that part of your foot is, and will then request an X-ray—if the sesamoid is broken the usually smooth bone will show up on the X-ray as a jagged mess.
Sesamoiditis might be just part of the problem. Your doctor may tell you that you also have “turf toe” (an injury so called because it’s common in people who play sports like football and soccer that involve a lot of kicking, running, and swiveling). In addition, you might have metatarsalgia—generalized pain in the ball of the foot—caused by injury to the long bones of the foot.
Fortunately, all three conditions are treated in very much the same way. Most of the treatments your doctor will recommend will be aimed first at reducing painful inflammation. These can include resting and icing the foot and taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications; in order to help the bone itself heal your doctor might tape the big toe joint and could prescribe a stiff-soled shoe or a short cast. For longer-term relief and prevention, your doctor may recommend physical therapy to help you strengthen the arches of your feet and perhaps even work with your hips and knees to change the way your feet hit the ground when you walk or run.
For more information about foot health or to make an appointment with one of Triad Foot & Ankle Center’s highly skilled podiatrists, please call 336.375.6990 or click here to request an appointment at one of our four office locations.
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