Big Toe Pain from Little Round Bones

Broken Toes and Big Toe PainWith great weather all year long, the Coachella Valley is a magnet for sports enthusiasts and active people of all ages and skill levels, from local sports clubs all the way to the Indian Wells Masters professional tennis tournament next month. If you enjoy sports or running yourself, you may have experienced big toe pain at some time. Several things can cause it, even two tiny round bones under the ball of your foot.

The sesamoid bones are about the size of large peas, and they lie among the tendons where your big toe bone connects to your first metatarsal bone. They act like pulleys for the tendons, allowing them to move smoothly as you push off for a step or rise up on your toes. Running, jumping, standing on your forefoot on ladders, or crouching on the ball of your foot as a baseball catcher does can all cause a sesamoid injury. There are two main ways these little bones cause problems: fracturing, or they and the tissue around them can become inflamed.

With hard impact, or even with a sprain injury like turf toe, the small bones can break. An acute break will usually involve immediate pain and swelling under the base of the big toe. Stress fractures also develop from repeated pressure on them, such as with running long distances. This becomes a chronic condition, with pain that can come and go as you are active and then rest.

Overuse and repeated pressure can also cause the bones and the soft tissue around them to become red, hot, and inflamed—a condition called sesamoiditis. It results in a dull ache under the toe that happens repeatedly when you wear certain shoes or do certain activities.

What can you do for big toe pain? For mild discomfort, try resting and icing the foot for a few days. We can also prescribe laser therapy, a pain reliever or give you a steroid injection to get you over the initial pain. For more severe problems, padding, taping or immobilizing the toe in some way can be helpful while it heals. Orthotic supports and physical therapy can be effective as well.

For help with pain in the ball of your foot, call Dr. Harvey Danciger, DPM, at (760) 568 – 0108 to find out what’s wrong and how it can be treated. Don’t let two little bones keep you from enjoying your favorite activities!

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Dr. Harvey Danciger
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Dr. Harvey Danciger is a podiatrist and foot surgeon in Palm Desert, CA specializing in the foot and ankle
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