What is Sesamoiditis, how to treat, and more

LEAP Foot and Ankle Specialists pllc
November 20, 2023

Understanding Sesamoiditis: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

Sesamoiditis is a common foot condition that can cause pain and discomfort in the ball of the foot. It is often mistaken for other foot conditions, such as plantar fasciitis, gout, or a stress fracture. In this article, we will explore what sesamoiditis is, its causes, symptoms, and treatment options.

What is Sesamoiditis?

Sesamoiditis is a condition that affects the sesamoid bones, which are two small bones located beneath the big toe joint in the ball of the foot. These bones act as a pulley for the tendons that help move the big toe, and they also help bear weight and provide stability to the foot.

When the sesamoid bones become inflamed or irritated, it can lead to sesamoiditis. This condition is most commonly seen in athletes, particularly those who participate in activities that involve repetitive pressure on the ball of the foot, such as running, dancing, or playing sports like basketball or tennis.

Causes of Sesamoiditis

The most common cause of sesamoiditis is overuse or repetitive stress on the sesamoid bones. This can occur from activities that involve running, jumping, or pushing off the ball of the foot repeatedly. Other factors that can contribute to sesamoiditis include:

  • High arches or flat feet
  • Wearing high heels or shoes with a narrow toe box
  • Excessive weight or obesity
  • Foot deformities, such as bunions or hammertoes
  • Trauma or injury to the foot

Symptoms of Sesamoiditis

The most common symptom of sesamoiditis is pain in the ball of the foot, particularly under the big toe joint. This pain may be dull or sharp and can worsen with activity. Other symptoms may include:

  • Swelling and tenderness in the ball of the foot
  • Difficulty bending or straightening the big toe
  • Pain when walking or standing for long periods
  • Numbness or tingling in the toes

If left untreated, sesamoiditis can lead to a stress fracture in the sesamoid bones, which can cause more severe pain and require a longer recovery time.

Diagnosis of Sesamoiditis

If you are experiencing symptoms of sesamoiditis, it is important to make an appointment for a proper diagnosis. Your Denver podiatrist will perform a physical exam and may order imaging tests, such as an X-ray or MRI, to rule out other conditions and confirm the diagnosis of sesamoiditis.

Treatment Options for Sesamoiditis

The treatment for sesamoiditis will depend on the severity of the condition. In most cases, sesamoiditis can be treated with conservative measures, such as:

Rest and Ice

The first step in treating sesamoiditis is to rest the foot and avoid activities that aggravate the condition. Applying ice to the affected area can help reduce pain and inflammation.

Insoles for Sesamoiditis

Insoles or orthotics can help relieve pressure on the sesamoid bones and provide cushioning and support to the foot. They can also help correct any underlying foot issues, such as high arches or flat feet, that may be contributing to the condition.

Sesamoiditis Pads

Sesamoiditis pads are small, adhesive pads that can be placed under the ball of the foot to provide cushioning and support to the sesamoid bones. These pads can help reduce pain and pressure on the affected area.


Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can help reduce pain and inflammation associated with sesamoiditis.

Physical Therapy

A physical therapist can help develop a stretching and strengthening program to help alleviate pain and improve flexibility and strength in the foot.

Steroid Injections

In severe cases of sesamoiditis, a doctor may recommend a corticosteroid injection to reduce inflammation and pain in the affected area.


In rare cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the inflamed sesamoid bones. This is typically only recommended if conservative treatments have not been effective.

Preventing Sesamoiditis

To prevent sesamoiditis, it is important to take care of your feet and avoid activities that put excessive pressure on the ball of the foot. Some tips for preventing sesamoiditis include:

  • Wearing properly fitting shoes with good arch support and a wide toe box
  • Avoiding high heels or shoes with a narrow toe box
  • Gradually increasing the intensity and duration of physical activity
  • Maintaining a healthy weight to reduce pressure on the feet
  • Stretching and strengthening the feet and toes regularly

Sesamoiditis can be a painful and debilitating condition, but with proper treatment and prevention, it can be managed effectively. If you are experiencing symptoms of sesamoiditis, it is important to call LEAP Foot and Ankle Specialists for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. With the right care, you can get back on your feet and continue to participate in the activities you love.


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