It’s widely understood that a human adult normally has a total of 206 bones in his or her body, but this is only mostly accurate.

See, that particular number doesn’t take into account some of the bones known as sesamoids. Most of these tiny bones might not be commonly known, but you will quickly become familiar with them if any become injured and cause painful symptoms. This condition is referred to as sesamoiditis.

If you’re reading about this condition and it sounds like the problem you are experiencing, contact Waukesha Foot Specialists so we can form an ideal treatment plan for you.

An Introduction to Sesamoid Bones

Sesamoids are unique from most bones in your skeletal structure in the fact that they are not connected to other bones in a conventional manner.

The best example of this can easily be 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 addition to the sesamoid bones found on your knees, you also have tiny ones found directly underneath each of the big toes on the underside of your feet. These sesamoids are roughly the size of a kernel of corn and help allow tendons in the area to move smoothly. They also assist with the bearing of your bodyweight, which takes pressure off of the first metatarsal bone.

Sesamoids and Tendonitis

Since they are responsible for taking pressure away from the metatarsal bone, these sesamoids face a great amount of pressure and stress on a regular basis. Feet are naturally equipped to handle a certain amount of force, but sesamoids can become fractured or irritated when it becomes too much.

In these instances, the surrounding tendons can become inflamed as a result: known as sesamoiditis. Much like with tendonitis, the injury has a progressive onset and can develop into a 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 condition. Dancer and runners are particularly prone to sesamoiditis, which is 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 in 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 sesamoiditis.

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

Symptoms of Sesamoiditis

Being 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.

Sesamoiditis 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 other conditions, like turf toe and metatarsalgia, have similar symptoms, it is important to come in for an accurate diagnosis if you experience any of these warning signs.

Sesamoiditis Treatment at Waukesha Foot Specialists

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, custom 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.

Keeping 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 Waukesha Foot Specialists as soon as you realize something is wrong. Simply give us a call at (262) 544-0700 to schedule your appointment with our Waukesha office.

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