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Sesamoiditis Symptoms and Treatment

The sesamoid bones are two small bones which are embedded in the tendon of the flexor hallucis brevis muscle just under the base of the big toe.

The purpose of the sesamoid bones is to protect the tendon of the flexor hallucis longus muscle and increase the strength of the muscle by giving it a mechanical advantage by acting as a level and take on most of the weight bearing on the inside of the foot.

Sesamoids provide a smooth surface over which the tendons slide, thus increasing the ability of the tendons to transmit muscle forces. The sesamoids in the forefoot also assist with weight bearing and help elevate the bones of the big toe.

Unfortunately, like all other bones, sesamoids can break. Additionally, the tendons surrounding the sesamoids can become irritated or inflamed, resulting in a condition known as sesamoiditis.


Sesamoiditis is commonly caused by performing similar actions that involve the toe over and over again.

Activities commonly associated with sesamoitis include:

  • Running
  • Dancing
  • Most sports


The symptoms of sesamoiditis can range from a dull ache to a sharp pain every time you walk. Additionally, bending the big toe upwards will generally cause the pain to worsen.

Other symptoms include:

  • Pain is focused under the great toe on the ball of the foot.
  • Pain often develops gradually
  • Swelling and bruising
  • The affected area may be swollen and slightly red.


Treatment of sesamoiditis typically requires large amounts of rest and cold therapy treatments to ease pain and inflammation. In some cases, a doctor may also prescribe anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen to aid in the reduction of inflammation and pain.

Other non-surgical treatments include:

  • Wearing soft-soled, low-heeled shoes.
  • Taping the big toe so that it remains bent slightly downward.
  • A steroid injection to reduce swelling.
  • A custom-made orthoic insert for better shock absorption.
  • If symptoms persist, a removable short leg fracture brace may need to be worn for for 4 to 6 weeks.

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The content on this website is for informational purposes only. Do not rely or act upon information from without seeking professional medical advice. If you live in South Florida and would like a consultation with Dr. Ian Goldbaum, a podiatric physician and surgeon with over 30 years of experience, please see our contact information below:


16244 S. Military Trail #290, Delray Beach, FL 33484



8198 Jog Road #100, Boynton Beach, FL 33472




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