Runners, dancers, and athletes can inadvertently develop sesamoiditis by practicing movements and maneuvers that transfer weight to the ball of the foot. Rarely, people who regularly wear heels—or who have high arches or flat feet—can prompt inflammation just from walking. 

Symptoms of Sesamoiditis

Although sesamoiditis is an overuse injury, it’s not always characterized by sharp, sudden pain or any other obvious symptoms. In many cases, inflammation develops gradually, worsening with time and through continued exercise. 

The early-warning signs of emerging sesamoiditis often include: 

  • A dull ache or pain under the big toe 
  • Difficulty bending or flexing the big toe 
  • Difficulty putting weight on the affected toe
  • Swelling or redness in the foot 
  • Bruising around the big toe and sesamoid bone

Podiatrists typically diagnose sesamoiditis by performing a physical examination of the foot and conducting different mobility tests. Some techniques, like the Passive Axial Compression test, help determine whether symptoms are being caused by a sesamoid bone or another injury. 

Can Sesamoiditis Heal on its Own? 

It all depends. If sesamoiditis is diagnosed early and treated by a professional, symptoms sometimes resolve within a matter of days—often with little need for intervention beyond icing, elevation, and a short period of bed rest. 

However, more severe cases of sesamoiditis can be complicated and may require longer healing times lasting three and six months. 

Treating Sesamoiditis at Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle

Most sesamoiditis treatments our podiatrists recommend are noninvasive. They include: 

  • Bedrest, and an immediate cessation of activities, like sports, that stress the sesamoid bones
  • Immobilization of the big toe, sometimes using a cast or special walking boot. 
  • Ice applications, which help reduce inflammation. 
  • Physical therapy, designed to help regain a normal range of motion after wearing a walking boot or undergoing surgery. 
  • NSAIDs, a class of anti-inflammatory medications that relieve swelling, reduce pain, and promote faster healing times. 

In rare cases where sesamoiditis either doesn’t respond to treatment or keeps coming back, the experienced team at Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle may recommend surgery. This typically involves removing one—but not both—of the sesamoid bones, which could curb swelling and prevent symptoms from returning. 

When designing a treatment plan, your podiatrist evaluates your symptoms, the underlying injury, and any possible complications. Sesamoiditis is sometimes accompanied by stress fractures of the sesamoid bone, which may be diagnosed with an X-ray or other medical imaging test. 

Sesamoiditis Outlook and Prognosis

Sesamoiditis-related symptoms can improve quickly, especially if you abstain from strenuous physical activity for a short period of time. However, sesamoiditis almost always has the potential to become a chronic problem. Left unchecked, it can cause long-lasting or permanent damage, increasing your lifetime risk for arthritis and other degenerative conditions. If you suspect you have this condition, call our office today to request an appointment.

Dr. P. Roman Burk
Providing experienced private practice podiatry services in the Caldwell and Meridian, ID area since 2007.