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Phone: 541-776-3338
Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle, LLC
Call Us 541-776-3338
1904 EAST BARNETT RD., MEDFORD, OR 97504
Toll Free 844-899-6826

Sesamoiditis - Small Bones, Big Job

You use the ball of your foot for almost every movement, big or small—when you want to stand up on tip-toes to reach a high shelf, land during a rebound in basketball, or crouch down next to your child’s bed at night. The ball of your foot is able to bear a lot of weight and the spot under the big toe joint takes on a lot of that force. This is the area where the sesamoid bones are located. When they become irritated, the discomfort comes from a condition called sesamoiditis. The pain can hinder you from doing certain activities, making proper treatment very necessary and important.

Small Bones with a Big Job

The sesamoid bones play a big purpose within the feet. These pea-sized bones are located within the tendon that attaches the first metatarsal bone to the toe bone. They act as pulleys, providing leverage every time you want to use your toe to push off and lift your foot off the ground. In addition, they help disperse the pressure and weight when your foot strikes the ground.

Sesamoiditis develops when the sesamoids become irritated or fractured. The surrounding bone and tissues become inflamed and this causes significant discomfort when you want to use the ball of your foot. When the injury involves a fracture, you will most likely know right away as the pain will be immediate and could be severe. Irritation and inflammation, on the other hand, develop over time. Athletes that land often on the balls of the feet or frequently use the area are particularly more at risk. This would include dancers, tennis players, baseball catchers, and runners. The constant impact and trauma that these bones endure can become too intense.

You may feel a slight ache at the beginning but if the intensity on your foot continues, this condition can lead to a deep throbbing pain that keeps you from doing the activities you love. Again, if the pain occurs sharply or all of a sudden, it is possible that one of the little sesamoids has fractured. You will feel the pain under the base of the big toe joint on the ball of your foot, which may make it difficult to move your toe up and down. Any kind of force that increases the pressure on the ball of the foot can lead to this condition. If you are an athlete, increasing the intensity and frequency of your workouts can put you at risk and having high arched feet is a factor as well.

Treating Your Pain

The first step is a thorough evaluation to determine the exact source of the pain and the extent of the damage. If Dr. Evan Merrill determines that sesamoiditis is indeed the cause, then he can provide a tailored treatment plan suited to your symptoms and lifestyle. It is usually recommended that you avoid the activity that caused the problem and any others that would put added stress on the affected area. Pain relievers, anti-inflammatory medications, and icing are also secondary treatment methods. Using soft-soled, cushioned shoes with a small heel will also help take pressure off the ball of the foot. When pain persists beyond these efforts, we may implement steroid injections, taping, or bracing to help relieve your pain.

Don’t wait until a small problem turns into a much larger, painful situation. There is no reason to live with foot pain when we have the treatments to keep you engaged in the activities you love to do. Contact Southern Oregon Foot & Ankle, L.L.C. to make an appointment with Dr. Evan Merrill. Call our Medford, OR, office at (541) 776-3338 or use our appointment request option online.

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