Sesamoids are sesame shaped bones and the term sesamoiditis is used to refer to inflammation in the tendons where sesamoid bones are found in your foot. Located in the tendons proximal to your great toe the sesamoids help with what is known as toe off. During the gait cycle your weight is distributed unevenly beneath your foot. At toe off the great toe is responsible for transferring your weight from the current foot to the opposing one. This movement occurs thousands of times a day for the majority of people who take normal use of their sesamoids for granted.
While sesamoiditis is a niche condition that tends to affect dancers, baseball catchers and runners every day folk are not exempt. People with especially high arches or insufficient padding on the underside of their feet may also suffer from this painful condition. The average human foot has two sesamoids that assist in leveraging the foot. Having a high arch, a bony foot (or both) places both place excess stress on your forefoot. Inadequate rest, shoes that lack proper support and repetitive motions can cause tissues around your sesamoids to become inflamed.
Treatment of sesamoiditis involves staying off the afflicted foot which can be much more difficult than people think. Mild sesamoiditis may improve when the foot is allowed to take a break from its normal activities. Pain is usually minimal and may be more of an annoyance than anything. Advanced cases of sesamoiditis may cause severe forefoot pain especially when shoes with thin soles are worn. Sesamoid fracture is uncommon yet can occur. If a sesamoidal fracture is suspected an x-ray is standard protocol. Treatment of non-fractured sesamoids includes rest, ice, and elevation along with pain relievers such as ibuprofen to alleviate swelling.
Prophylactic measures include knowing what kind of a foot you have, what you are requiring it to do, and addressing any additional support needs your foot has. Sesamoiditis can occur when individuals who have been less active suddenly step up their regime. Getting back into shape is an admirable goal however recognize that your body needs time to adjust to a new routine. Listen to your body, understand that pain is a warning that something is wrong and take steps to diagnose any injury you may have sustained.
Metarsal and dancer pads may be incorporated into footbeds and orthotics to help redistribute weight away from the metatarsal heads and the sesamoid bones. A good pedorthist, podiatrist, physical therapist or Sports Medicine specialist can help guide sesamoiditis sufferers towards non-invasive treatment options that will address the underlying cause of forefoot pain. Whether you run, dance, your arch is abnormally high or you have none of the aforementioned predispositions you will want to take even mild forefoot discomfort seriously as it can quickly develop into a more serious condition.
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