Sesamoiditis: Ball of Foot Pain

Your feet are intricate structures consisting of a quarter of all the bones in your adult body. In addition to the 52 total bones between the two feet and ankles, you also have 66 joints, 38 muscles and over 200 ligaments. These appendages are responsible for both your stability and mobility, which means they absorb a lot of stress and pressure. Given the amount of wear and tear they endure, it is no wonder as to why Dr. Harvey Danciger, DPM, has the opportunity to help treat so many foot and ankle problems on a regular basis. One of those problems is a condition known as sesamoiditis, which leads to ball of foot pain and affects two very tiny bones (sesamoids) that you probably didn’t even know you had.

Sesamoids causing pain in the ball of the foot

Sesamoids and Tendonitis

The sesamoids in your feet differ from most of the bones in your body because they are not connected to other bones. Instead, these tiny, corn kernel-sized bones connect to tendons within your muscle. They are located on the bottom of your feet directly below your big toes. Sesamoids assist with bearing the weight of your body and allowing tendons to move smoothly. Like any other bones, these small bones can have painful issues that arise, including the development of pain in toes.

When the sesamoids are irritated and the surrounding tendons become inflamed, the result is a condition known as sesamoiditis. A form of tendonitis, this ailment typically has a gradual onset and, without early treatment, it can turn into chronic ball of foot pain. 

Risk Factors 

There are some hereditary foot conditions that you cannot escape, but sesamoiditis can sometimes be prevented by avoiding certain activities and behavior. The odds of enduring this injury is increased with overuse from activities that place a lot of pressure on the ball of your foot, like dancing or sprinting. Other potential causes include:

  • Consistent impact on your forefeet while wearing high heels
  • Having high foot arches
  • Activities such as running up hills, basketball, and playing catcher in baseball
  • Any job that requires a lot of squatting and lifting
  • Being over 60 years of age 


Walking and running places a tremendous amount of pressure on your feet. When you notice the symptoms of sesamoiditis, seek treatment with Harvey R. Danciger, DPM, as soon as possible. An early catch will help prevent chronic problems. Metatarsalgia and turf toe are similar conditions, so it is important to pay especially close attention to what you are experiencing so we can properly diagnosis the source of your pain. Look out for the following symptoms:

  • Dull, persistent pain under your big toe in the bottom of your foot
  • Tenderness in the ball of your foot
  • Restricted movement of your big toe
  • Pain in the ball of your foot that comes and goes depending on footwear and activity 

Treating Sesamoiditis

Conservative measures are generally quite effective in treating this condition. These often include rest and ice, avoiding activities that aggravate the condition, cushioned pads, physical therapy, laser treatments, injections to minimize swelling, and the use of orthotics. In the rare occurrences when these methods do not sufficiently alleviate the pain and discomfort, surgery to remove the sesamoids may become necessary.

As noted, early treatment for this ball of foot pain will help decrease the chance of it becoming a chronic condition, so it is important to come see Harvey R. Danciger, DPM, if you think you may have sesamoiditis. Our office is located in Palm Desert, CA, and you will receive an expert diagnosis and effective treatment from our professional staff. Start down the path of healthy, pain-free feet and ankles by calling (760) 568-0108 or scheduling an appointment online today.

Photo Credit: satit_srihin via 


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