A sesamoid fracture is a break in 1 of the 2 pea-shaped bones in the ball of the foot beneath the big toe. These bones let the feet move smoothly.
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Causes may be:
- A direct blow to the foot, such as from falling and landing heavily
- Repetitive stress to the foot
This problem is more common in people who play high-impact sports, such as running, aerobics, ballet, or gymnastics.
The most common symptom is pain in the ball of the foot and big toe. Other problems may be:
- Swelling and redness of the foot and big toe
- Pain in the ball of the foot behind the big toe
- Pain when walking
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. You may be asked about any injury you have had or any activities that you do. You may need to see a doctor who treats bones or feet.
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It will take 4 to 8 weeks for most people to heal. The goals of treatment are to manage pain and support the bone as it heals. This may include:
- Medicine to ease pain and swelling
- A cast to keep the bone in place as it heals
- Crutches to take weight off of the foot
- Exercises to help with strength and range of motion
Some people may need surgery when other methods do not help. During surgery, the sesamoid bone may be set or removed.
This problem cannot always be prevented. Starting a new sport slowly may help lower the risk of injury.
American Podiatric Medical Association
Foot Health Facts—American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons
Canadian Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Association
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation
Schein AJ, Skalski MR, et al. Turf toe and sesamoiditis: what the radiologist needs to know. Clin Imaging. 2015 May-Jun;39(3):380-389.
Sesamoiditis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/condition/sesamoiditis. Updated May 20, 2016. Accessed September 7, 2017.
Last reviewed September 2019 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Laura Lei-Rivera, PT, DPT, GCS Last Updated: 7/14/2020