Sesamoiditis is a common forefoot ailment that typically affects young people who engage in a physical activity like running or dancing. It is an inflammation of the sesamoid bones, small bones just behind the great toe. These sesamoid bones are not connected to other bones but are connected to tendons. Like the kneecap, the sesamoids function as a pulley. They provide a smooth surface over which the tendons slide, thus increasing the ability of the tendons to transmit muscle forces. Every time you push off against the ground with your toe, the sesamoids are involved. The sesamoids in the forefoot also assist with weightbearing and help elevate the bones of the great toe. Like other bones, sesamoids can break (fracture). Additionally, the tendons surrounding the sesamoids can become irritated or inflamed. This is called sesamoiditis and is a form of tendinitis. It is very common among ballet dancers.
Sesamoiditis doesn’t need any invasive treatment. Normally it heals with a long period of rest and insoles custom moulded and fortified with a sesamoid cut out (also called as dancer’s pad). This is a metatarsal pad that takes the weight off the sesamoid bones by redistributing it in the surrounding areas and allowing the inflammation to heal.