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What is a Sesamoid Injury?

By Alex Paul
Updated May 17, 2024
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A sesamoid injury usually refers to a foot injury as there are two different sesamoid bones in the big toe. There are several different types of injries to a sesamoid bone — any bonethat’s embedded in a tendon such as the foot or knee — including a fracture, turf toe and sesamoiditis. Diagnosis and treatment for these conditions depends on the exact problem and severity.

Turf toe occurs when there is an injury to the surrounding tissue of the big toe. This usually occurs during any activity where the big toe has to be extended to a greater extent than it can deal with. An injury such as this occurs suddenly and with immediate pain that is usually followed by swelling of the surrounding area. Although turf toe is the general name given to this type of injury,it can occur to the tissue attaching to the sesamoids or even to the bones themselves.

Fractures are a common type of sesamoid injury and occur in two distinct forms. Acute fractures are typically caused by sudden force and trauma which is accompanied by swelling and pain. Chronic fractures to the sesamoid are usually caused by repeated stress to the bone that can cause a fracture over time. This type of sesamoid injury will get better with rest only to resume once the person starts to perform he original activity.

Sesamoiditis is another sesamoid injury caused by overuse. It occurs when there is a chronic problem with the bones that causes inflammation to the tendons and sesamoids. Often the pain gets worse when there is increased pressure on the bone. Usually the pain that’s associated with this injury is dull and mild although it can be an annoyance that gets worse over time.

Although treatment for a sesamoid injury will depend on type of problem involved there are some that are common to all. For example, in order to let the sesamoid bones heal, it’s often important to strap the toe in order to reduce pressure. Immobilization is also sometimes used along with crutches to help provide a shorter recovery time.

Other treatments for a sesamoid injury include physical therapy, medication such as Ibuprofen and orthotics. These fit into the shoe of the patient and help to balance the forces on the foot and toes. Sometimes an injection of steroids into the surrounding joint is used to reduce pain.

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