Sesamoid Bones & Treatment for Sesamoid Pains

The human body consists of more than 200 bones. Most of these bones are connected to one other at the joints. However, there are some bones that do not share any connections with other bones. Instead, these bones are connected to the tendons only or are effectively embedded in the muscles. These bones are referred to as sesamoids. One example of such a bone is the patella or kneecap, which is the biggest sesamoid in the body. There are also two small sesamoids located on the underside of the forefoot just near the big toe. Each of these sesamoids has got a distinct function of their own.

The sesamoids in the body often function as pulleys. These usually provide a smooth surface on which the tendons can slide. This makes it easier for the tendons to effectively transmit the muscle forces. Sesamoids present in the forefoot can help with weight bearing as well as help to elevate the bones present in the big toe. Just like the other bones, the sesamoids can also develop fractures and break. In addition, tendons which surround the sesamoids may become inflamed or irritated in a process known as sesamoiditis. Sesamoiditis is classified as a major form of tendinitis. The condition is frequently found in ballet dancers, professional athletes and runners.

The most common symptoms associated with sesamoids include pain, swelling and bruising. The majority of the pains are felt on the underside of the big toe right on the ball section of the foot. If a person is affected by sesamoiditis, the pain may develop gradually. On the other hand, a sesamoid fracture will be felt almost immediately. The other symptoms may vary from one patient to another. For instance, bruising and swelling is common but not always present A patient may also experience significant pain and difficulty while straightening and bending the big toe. The diagnosis of the condition is carried out by a foot specialist who is going to check for any tenderness associated with the sesamoid bones. The specialist may also check up the function of the big toe and see if there is any pain in the area. Imaging tests such as X-rays can be carried out to help with diagnosis. Blood tests for ruling out inflammatory arthritis or gout can be considered as well.

Sesamoid treatment is mostly non-surgical. However, in extreme cases where conservative measures fail to produce the desired results, a specialist may consider surgery as the main form of treatment. Surgery can be used for removing the sesamoid bone. The specialist may initially recommend NSAIDs like ibuprofen or aspirin to reduce the pain, as well as recommend rest, use of padded shoes and other protective measures. Steroid injections can be used for reducing swelling. In some cases, the patient may also be asked to wear a brace for a period of about 6 weeks.