What is Sesamoiditis?

You might remember that old song from childhood, “Dem Dry Bones” —

Your toe bone’s connected to your foot bone.

Your foot bone’s connected to your ankle bone…

It was a great way to learn about basic anatomy as a kid. As adults, though, we understand the incredible extent to which the song simplifies the human skeleton. As podiatrists, we might be tempted to sing, “The phalanges of the toes are connected to the metatarsals of the midfoot,” but it’s just not quite as catchy.

It might surprise you to learn that there are some bones in our body that are not connected to other bones. Instead, they’re connected to the soft tissues of the tendons, or surrounded by muscles. These are called sesamoid bones. The largest sesamoid in your body is your kneecap. On the underside of your foot at the base of your big toe, you’ll also find two very small sesamoids. They assist your big toe in propelling your foot forward as you walk or run.

Injuries of the sesamoid bones

There are three ways that you can injure your sesamoid bones:

  1. They can break, or fracture, just like any other bone in the foot.
  2. The tendons surrounding them become irritated or inflamed. Professional dancers and athletes are prone to this type of sesamoiditis, which is actually a form of tendonitis.
  3. The tendon is suddenly pulled beyond its normal capacity. This type of sesamoiditis has a specific name, which is “turf toe.”

Symptoms of sesamoid injuries

If you have a sudden pain in the bottom of your foot near the big toe, it’s possible that you’ve fractured your sesamoid bones. Our skilled podiatrists, Michael L. Rosenberg, DPM and Heidi M. Christie, DPM, will probably want to x-ray your foot if you describe pain that has come on suddenly in that area.

You can suspect sesamoiditis – an injury to the tendons that is not due to a fracture of the sesamoid bones – if you see bruising or have a hard time bending your toe. You’ll have an ache or pain under your foot near the bottom of your big toe that worsens during activity. Over time, the pain can develop into a severe throbbing.


Dr. Rosenberg and Dr. Christie encourage you to visit them at Montgomery Foot Care Specialists in Montgomery, AL. We offer a full range of treatment for sesamoiditis including recommendations for physical therapy, immobilization of the toe, cortisone injections, rest, icing, and anti-inflammatory medications. Only in the worst cases of sesamoiditis is surgery a recommended treatment.

Contact us anytime, online, or by phone at (334)396-3668.