Typically, you don’t think of a ball as a great surface for balancing anything—and yet, you have a “ball” of the foot that is a critical part of your ability to stand and move around. This area, where your toes meet your metatarsal bones, helps absorb shock from your steps. It’s also what you use to push off the ground and balance when you rise up on your toes. When it’s compromised by pain from something like sesamoiditis, your mobility suffers--big time.
Small Parts, Big Roles
Sesamoiditis is the inflammation and irritation around the sesamoids under your big toe. These small bones are embedded in tendons where your first metatarsal and your big toe meet. They are actually fairly important. Your big toe needs to be able to push off the ground with a significant amount of force. These bones act as pulleys, providing leverage when you step or jump. They also act as weight-bearing surfaces, helping your metatarsal absorb the weight placed on the ball of the foot.
Excessive strain and pressure on the ball of the foot can irritate the tendons around these small bones. This results in painful inflammation in the bones and their connective tissues. Your foot might be swollen and bruised as well. A gradually increasing ache under the ball of the foot at the base of the big toe will start to form. The discomfort will feel worse when you try to push off the ground. You may even have difficulty bending or straightening the first digit.
Sesamoiditis is an overuse injury, typically brought on by a sudden increase in activity. Starting a new exercise program, frequent jumping, increasing the mileage or the intensity of runs, and beginning hill running all force you to put more pressure on the ball of the foot. People with high-arched feet also risk developing this condition, since their foot structures naturally direct more-than-normal force to the forefoot. Because it’s an overuse problem, though, it doesn’t get better on its own—it needs treatment for real relief.
Restoring the Foot
You’ll need to have the ball of your affected foot examined to check for fractures or other issues that might be causing your discomfort. Dr. Noah Levine will evaluate your lower limbs where you’re experiencing pain. Our staff may take diagnostic images to rule out other possible diagnoses. Then, we can help you begin the treatment you need.
First, you’ll need to take a break from your activities so you don’t continue straining your sesamoid bones. If the pain is severe, you may need to have your foot taped or even immobilized to limit movement that could aggravate your condition. You’ll need to lower the inflammation and irritation as well. Icing the painful area can help, but we may still recommend anti-inflammatory medications.
Most likely, you’ll need some sort of orthotic or padded insole to add a layer of protection under the ball of the foot. As you heal, physical therapy exercises will allow you to slowly return to full strength without reinjuring yourself. If your condition doesn’t respond to normal conservative therapies, you may need direct injections of pain medication—or, on rare occasions, surgery.
Sesamoiditis can make every step excruciating, limiting your ability to walk or participate in your normal activities. You don’t have to resign yourself to limping, though. You can take steps to eliminate your discomfort and restore your lower limbs to full health. Let our team of specialists here at Absolute Foot Care Specialists in Las Vegas take care of you. Call (702) 839-2010 or fill out our online contact page to make an appointment.