Your sesamoid bones are a small section of bones that are embedded in a tendon in your foot. More precisely, they are two pea-sized bones that are located in the ball of a person’s foot, beneath their big toe joint. They act as pulleys for the tendons and help a person flex and curl their big toe, and they also help to handle stress that is channeled through the foot with every step. And like all bones in the foot, they are prone to irritation and fracture.
So what should you do if you suffer a sesamoid fracture, and how is the injury best treated? We answer those questions and more in today’s blog.
Sesamoid Fracture Causes and Symptoms
The most common cause of sesamoid fractures is from acute trauma to the foot, like if a person lands hard on their feet while running, jumping or falling. Sometimes they can also fracture from less traumatic stress over a longer period of time, and this is known as a repetitive stress injury. Repetitive stress injuries to the sesamoids may be more common in individuals who regularly run, wear high-heeled shoes, have tight calf muscles or those who walk with an overly-pronated gait.
Symptoms of a seasmoid fracture include:
Pain, especially when moving your big toe
Tenderness in the ball of your foot
Foot pain with movement
Swelling in your midfoot
Diagnosing and Treating Sesamoid Fractures
If you’re experiencing some of the symptoms listed above, your best bet is to head into your primary care physician’s office or to contact a foot specialist like Dr. Silverman. Once at their office, they’ll review your medical charts, ask about your symptoms, conduct a physical assessment and if necessary, take some imaging tests of your foot. Oftentimes a simple x-ray can help to diagnose a fractured sesamoid.
Once you’ve been diagnosed, your doctor will walk you through some conservative care options. Those options may include a combination of wearing shoes with more cushioning, wearing orthotic inserts that limit the motion of your big toe, taping your big toe to give added support and limit movement, or wearing a walking cast that will protect the bone while it heals. Cold therapy and anti-inflammatory medications can also help control swelling during this period. The majority of sesamoid fractures heal well with conservative care methods in about 4-8 weeks, but for those that are still painful after weeks of non-operative care, surgery may become necessary.