Sesamoiditis is a condition that affects the joint that is just behind the big toe in the area known as the ball of the foot. It is most common in younger people and people who have just begun an exercise program. Since the sesamoid bones are like a pulley controlling the big toe, they can rub against each other and cause pain. Pain may also be caused by the inflammation of tendons surrounding the bones. If ignored, sesamoiditis can lead to other, more serious problems such as severe irritation and fractures of the bones.
The cause of sesamoiditis is sudden increase in activity. The ball of your foot acts as a springboard to help you lift off when you are jogging or running. Sudden increase in the use of these bones or the tendon that controls them can cause irritation. The tendon then begins to develop inflammation and the joint begins to swell. People with smaller, bonier feet or those with a high arch are typically more susceptible to this condition.
Sesamoiditis is fairly simple to diagnose since the symptoms have a gradual onset rather than a sudden impact. The symptoms begin with slight irritation around the joint shortly after the increase in activity. The discomfort eventually turns to pain with light swelling and possible redness. Although redness or bruising is rare, either may occur. After each session of exercising, the aggravated joint becomes more irritated and can exacerbate into intense throbbing.
Treatment for sesamoiditis can vary depending on the severity of the condition. However, treatment for sesamoiditis is almost always approached in a noninvasive way. For a case that is just beginning, the doctor may recommend a very strict rest period that will limit activity and stress on the joint. If you must be active, a recommendation for a modified shoe or insole along with bandaging and immobilizing the big toe will be made to ensure that pressure is not placed on the joint. For severe cases, it is typically recommended that the joint and the big toe be completely immobilized to allow adequate time to heal. Ice and over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications can help with the pain and discomfort while you are at rest.
When you return to your regular exercise activities, it is recommended that you use an insole that will allow for even distribution of impact to your entire foot, rather than just the ball of your foot. This will prevent further aggravation of the condition.