What Is Seisamoiditis?

Sesamoiditis, simply described,  is an inflammation of the Sesamoid bones in the ball of the foot. The Sesamoid bones are unusual in that they are not connected to other bones, but to tendons.  They are subject to the same stresses and movement types as tendons as well as bones, particularly in the feet.  Sesamoid bones are present in the knees and the hands as well as the feet, but Sesamoiditis refers only to the bones in the feet.


Generally speaking Sesamoiditis is caused by excessive use of the tendons connecting the Sesamoid bones  Movements that transfer the weight to the balls of the feet can cause excessive pressure on the bones when they are repeated constantly.  Dancers and Athletes – particularly Runners – are prone to it.  Equally long term wearing of high heels can be a cause, especially if you have high arches or flat feet.  Pronation, or walking with an inward roll, can also be a cause.  In very rare cases, gout can be a cause.

Sesamoiditis develops gradually when it is caused by overuse.  The first sign is generally a nagging ache at the base of the big toe. If left unrated  the pain can become so severe that it causes difficulty walking.  In severe cases there may be stress fractures of the sesamoid bones.  

If you experience any pain in your feet when walking or weight bearing you should always consult your medical practitioner or qualified podiatrist.


Symptoms of Sesamoiditis can include:-

  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Bruising
  • Pain under the big toe
  • Difficulty bending toes, especially the big toe
  • Pain when weight bearing
  • Pain when walking


Rest – Sesamoiditis is a form of RSI so  you should stop doing whatever has caused the problem.

Strapping – Your medical practitioner or Podiatrist may recommend strapping or taping the big toe. In extreme cases a short leg brace may be recommended.

Physiotherapy – if your toe, foot or leg movements have been restricted in early treatment you may be advised to see a physiotherapist to help restore full health to the affected parts.  Ultrasound treatment and massage may also be advised

Orthotics – If high arches, flat feet or pronation are part of the cause your Podiatrist may recommend custom made orthotics to help protect your feet from a recurrence.

Inflammation and Pain management – In less severe cases ice packs and elevation of the foot can help reduce inflammation. In some cases anti-inflammatories may be required to help reduce pain and inflammation.  In very severe cases steroid injections may be advised.

Surgery – As a last resort in chronic cases where symptoms keep recurring and treatment does not help it may be necessary to remove one of the sesamoid bones.

You should always consult an appropriate medical practitioner if you are in pain or discomfort before undertaking any treatment

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