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(609) 927-4894
401 Shore Road, Somers Point, NJ 08244

Sesamoid Injuries: Little Bones, Big Pain

Embedded in the tendons at the base of your big toe are two tiny bones known as sesamoids. Sesamoids are bones that are not directly connected to other bones and they are found in only a few spots in the body, one of them being your feet. Although they are small, their function is big. Sesamoids act like a pulley system allowing your big toe to glide and push off when you walk. It’s a function we take for granted, until there’s a problem and the sesamoids are suddenly causing us great pain, making every step an agony. At Paul S. DeMarco, DPM, we see three common sesamoid issues:


Fractures—just like any other bone, sesamoids can get broken. Sesamoids are susceptible to the same two types of fractures as other bones: acute and stress. An acute fracture is a complete break that is caused by a trauma—a blow to the foot or crushing impact to the bone. You will most likely know if this happens as there will be immediate pain and swelling at site of the break. A stress fracture in a sesamoid is more subtle, producing ongoing pain in the ball of the foot that may come and go and that stops hurting when you rest your foot.

Turf Toe—this injury is like spraining your big toe. It is usually caused by a sudden and extreme “push off” or some other twisting injury that forces the big toe joint to extend way past its normal range. At the time of the injury you may feel a pop and a sudden sharp pain, followed by swelling. The toe will become stiff and there will be a very limited range of motion.

Sesamoiditis—this condition is not directly traceable to a specific injury. It occurs as a result of overuse and excessive pressure on the sesamoids. Athletes who participate in foot-pounding sports such as tennis, football and basketball often suffer from this condition. It’s signs are a chronic dull pain beneath the big toe. Many patients delay seeking treatment because the condition may seem to improve and then get worse again depending on your activity and your footwear.

It’s important if you are experiencing any kind of toe around the big toe joint or in the ball of your foot to have our podiatrist, Dr. Paul S. DeMarco, examine your foot and determine just what type of sesamoid condition you have. Treatment will vary according to the type and severity of the injury but will only get worse if left untreated. Contact  our Somers Point office today by calling: (609) 927-4894.