Even though most people have never heard of it, a sesamoid foot injury is one of the most common injuries treated by foot doctors. Sesamoids are bones embedded within a tendon, and you’ll find two pea-sized ones in the ball of your foot. These seemingly benign bones actually serve an important purpose. They provide leverage, help the hallux move, and even absorb shock. As with any bone injury, patients often experience severe pain, which may limit their physical activity. Here’s what to expect during the diagnosing and treatment process.
Diagnosing the Three Types of Sesamoid Injuries
During your initial appointment, your foot doctor will examine the big toe to determine the extent of the injury. They may move your toe around, press on the foot, or watch you walk around the room. In some cases, x-rays or other imaging may be necessary.
Depending on the findings, the doctor will diagnose you with one of these three types of injuries:
- Turf toe: If the injury only involves the soft tissue around the sesamoid, you most likely have turf toe. Overextending the big toe is usually the cause. In addition to sharp pain, you may also experience swelling and a limited range of motion.
- Sesamoid fracture: Even though tendons hide the sesamoids, fractures are still common. Diagnostic imaging will determine if the fracture is acute or chronic.
- Sesamoiditis: Chronic inflammation of the bones and tendons may lead to this painful injury. Although the dull pain will come and go, treatment is often needed to heal fully.
Conservative Treatments to Stop Sesamoid Pain
No one wants to find out they injured a bone in their foot, but there is a silver lining. Surgery is not always needed. The majority of patients respond well to nonsurgical, conservative treatments.
Most doctors will begin by taping the toes or immobilizing the foot with a cast. These simple treatments reduce pain and help take excess weight off the foot. Your doctor may also recommend over-the-counter pain relievers to speed up the healing process. Other patients respond better to steroid injections.
Patients with a limited range of motion may need physical therapy. Exercises and strengthening will help regain foot function. Patients sometimes wear orthotic devices to reduce the amount of pressure placed on the ball of the foot.
Your Feet Deserve the Best Care
Foot injuries are more common than you probably realize. Just one of your feet has 26 bones, 33 joints, and more muscles, tendons, and ligaments than you can count. Even a small injury can cause excruciating pain. It’s best to seek medical care as soon as you notice pain, swelling, or discomfort around your toes.
Foot HealthCare Associates is passionate about keeping our patients on their feet. We diagnose and treat a wide range of foot and ankle disorders. When you visit us, we’ll go above and beyond to provide you with the utmost care. We care about every patient who walks through the doors—and we’ll make you walk even better! Contact us to discuss your sesamoid foot injury with the best team of podiatrists in the area.