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Sesamoiditis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

March 28, 20242 min read

Sesamoiditis, though it may sound obscure, is a condition that can cause significant discomfort for those affected. Nestled beneath the big toe joint, the sesamoid bones, akin to miniature kneecaps, play a crucial role in facilitating movement and bearing weight in the foot. However, repetitive strain or excessive pressure can lead to inflammation and injury, resulting in sesamoiditis.

Who is at risk? Individuals engaged in activities that demand repetitive stress on the ball of the foot, such as dancers, sprinters, or frequent walkers, are prone to developing sesamoiditis. Additionally, those with high-arched or flat feet, as well as individuals who predominantly run on the balls of their feet, face an elevated risk.

Symptoms of sesamoiditis typically manifest as a dull, persistent pain beneath the big toe joint. This discomfort may fluctuate in intensity, often worsening with certain footwear or weight-bearing activities. Swelling in the forefoot region may accompany the pain, particularly during movements involving the big toe.

Diagnosing sesamoiditis entails a comprehensive examination by a podiatrist, focusing on the affected area. Differential diagnosis may be required to distinguish sesamoiditis from similar conditions like turf toe or sesamoid fractures. Imaging techniques such as X-rays might be used to confirm the diagnosis and assess the extent of injury.

Treatment strategies for sesamoiditis are primarily conservative and aim to alleviate pain and promote healing. Immobilization of the joint, R.I.C.E protocol (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation), and modification of footwear are common initial measures.

Specialized padding or taping techniques may be utilized to relieve pressure on the sesamoid bones. At Peak Podiatry we use semi compressed felt to directly offload the area which reduces the compression force on the area. This often gives instant relief. Using a soft poron material to cushion the painful area with the semi compressed felt can provide extra pain relief. 

Orthotic devices can redistribute weight and reduce strain on the affected area. These are very effective at reducing pain while walking and doing weight bearing activities. 

In some cases, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or steroid injections may be prescribed to manage pain and inflammation.

Surgical intervention is considered only when conservative treatments fail to provide relief. Surgery aims to address underlying issues and restore normal function to the foot.

Seeking professional guidance from a knowledgeable podiatrist is crucial for effective management of sesamoiditis. A tailored treatment plan, incorporating different therapies, can speed up recovery and prevent recurrence.

If you suspect you may be suffering from sesamoiditis, don't hesitate to consult a podiatrist. Early intervention can alleviate discomfort and facilitate a swift return to normal activities.

Don't hesitate to reach out to us at (091) 734 140 for a chat about your foot health needs or click here to book an appointment!

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Robert Meagher

Robert Meagher, Podiatrist at Peak Podiatry, Galway

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