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Family Foot Care & Surgery, LLC

Sesamoiditis: Ball of the Foot Irritation

If something is really painful, like touching a hot stove or stepping on glass, do you continue to do that painful thing? As long as your nerves and reflexes are functioning, you will pull your hand or your foot away from the problem. Pain is an indicator that something is wrong, and it frequently stops your actions. That can be a problem when pain from issues like sesamoiditis interferes with normal activities, like walking.

Injuring Little Bones

Sesamoiditis is painful inflammation around the sesamoid bones under the ball of your foot. These bones are tiny and different from the rest of the skeletal structures in your lower limbs. Unlike all other bones, they are not directly connected to your skeleton by a joint. Instead, they are embedded in the tendon that attaches your big toe to your first metatarsal on the underside of your foot. There they act as pulleys or fulcrums, allowing the tendon to slide smoothly and exert more force on the big toe.

Since the sesamoids are underneath the bottom of the foot, they are subject to a lot of weight and pressure. Between this and the use they get from pushing off the ground, it’s fairly easy for the little bones to suffer from overuse. The tendon around the sesamoids becomes irritated and inflamed, creating pain in the ball of the foot under the big toe. This is sesamoiditis.

Usually, the discomfort develops gradually as the condition worsens. Swelling in your sole may be visible. Bending and straightening the digit may be painful. Since you use the ball of the foot every time you stand or walk around, general mobility can be more difficult as well.

Restoring the Ball of the Foot

To treat sesamoiditis properly, you’ll need to have your condition accurately diagnosed. Dr. Sanjay Patel and our experienced staff will examine your feet and use diagnostic images and tests to rule out other possible conditions, like sesamoid fractures. Then you can begin a treatment plan tailored for your specific needs.

Like other overuse injuries, you’ll need to cut back on all hard-impact activities to give your foot a chance to rest. Continuing to put pressure on the ball of your foot will only compound the injury. Use footwear with sufficient cushioning under the ball of the foot to help your body absorb the pressure and shock of your steps.

You may need orthotics to help correct biomechanical issues that may contribute to the pressure on the ball of the foot—as well as add an extra layer of protection there. Ice the painful area periodically to help minimize the inflammation and discourage swelling. We may also recommend anti-inflammatory medications for you.

If your pain is persistent, direct injections of pain medications may offer some relief. Only rarely does anyone need surgery to help manage this condition. As your injury heals, you can begin easing back into your activities. You’ll still need to recondition your feet to handle the impacts so you don’t reinjure yourself right away, though.

Sesamoiditis is a painful problem that can make walking and other normal activities highly uncomfortable. You don’t have to let ball of the foot pain control your life, however. You can take steps to minimize and eliminate your discomfort, restoring your lower limbs to full strength.

Let Dr. Sanjay Patel here at Family Foot Care & Surgery, L.L.C. know if you’re suffering with this, or any, kind of foot pain. Let us help you restore your feet. Submit a request through our website or call either of our two Connecticut offices to make an appointment with us: (203) 876-7736 for the Milford office, or (203) 288-4055 for the Hamden location.

Dr. Sanjay V. Patel
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Dr. Patel has over 20 years of experience in the field of podiatric medicine and podiatric surgery.