Sesamoiditis: Sounds Super Scary, Right?

Although it sounds frightening, sesamoiditis is a common condition that affects runners, hockey players, and those used to wearing high-heels. It might start with pain in the first joint of the big toe. It’s often followed by swelling, making it difficult to bend the toe. Moreover, participating in the activities you usually enjoy can be uncomfortable or even painful.

For that reason, finding the right footwear that will help you continue with the things you love doing can be challenging. But you don’t need to worry. We’ll outline the best shoes for sesamoiditis along with their features. Plus, you’ll learn everything you need to know about sesamoiditis. Keep reading.

wearing high heels

What is Sesamoiditis?

Before we see what exactly sesamoiditis is, you should get familiar with sesamoids. In general, bones in our bodies are connected to each other with ligaments. But there are some which are only attached to tendons. These are sesamoids or sesamoid bones. The biggest sesamoid bone is the kneecap, and there are two tiny ones in the underside of the foot. The small sesamoids located under the big toe help lift it and absorb the stress of the weight put on our feet.

However, sesamoids are subject to stresses. When we run or participate in other physical activities, we can put too much pressure on them. Occasionally, this can cause irritation and inflammation, which is a condition called sesamoiditis.

Sesamoiditis is quite common and often affects athletes and dancers, because they spend a lot of time on their feet. Therefore, the ball of the foot is often under a lot of pressure.

Sometimes, the pain people feel is due to the additional tissue, located under the big toe joint. This is called plantar keratosis.

Sesamoiditis doesn’t run in the family and isn’t transmitted from one person to another. Therefore, if someone you know is experiencing the symptoms, there is nothing to worry about.

What are the Causes of Sesamoiditis?

Causes of sesamoiditis can be acute or cumulative. Acute sesamoiditis occurs if we fall from a height, resulting in a huge impact on the ball of the foot. Cumulative causes can vary. In many instances, these happen when there’s constant pressure on the big toe due to some repeated physical activity such as running, jumping, dancing, playing football, etc. 

Furthermore, if we change shoes or the surface we typically walk long distances on, we could potentially develop sesamoiditis.

Today’s footwear is often uncomfortable. The toe box isn’t always wide enough, which can potentially dislocate sesamoid bones. As a result, conventional footwear is often a contributing factor. Frequently wearing high-heels and clogs is also associated with sesamoiditis.

People with high arches are also at higher risk of suffering from sesamoiditis. Due to their anatomy, the feet can slant inward, putting more than normal pressure on the ball of the foot.

runners and running shoes

What are the Symptoms of Sesamoiditis?

Depending on the type of sesamoiditis, symptoms may appear suddenly or gradually. Sometimes, the sesamoid bones can break, and it can be difficult to distinguish between a fracture and sesamoiditis. For this reason, it’s important to see a specialist to confirm you’re indeed suffering from sesamoiditis.

If the person lands on one or both feet from a height and sesamoid bones are affected, the symptoms will be instantly felt. The pain will be located in the big toe, and there may be swelling.

On the other hand, if sesamoiditis occurs gradually, there may or may not be swelling. Moreover, a person can experience dull pain in the ball of the foot, which can come and go during the day. This can feel rather unpleasant and uncomfortable. Bruising is also common. Occasionally, some people feel warmth in the inflamed area.

If the pain and swelling are causing much discomfort, the person might start to limp. This is because putting more weight on the other foot lessens the pain.

Pain can increase when bending the big toe. Pain can also increase when participating in activities that put pressure on the area, such as jumping, running, or dancing.

What Treatment is Available for Sesamoiditis?

The good news is that sesamoiditis is usually nonoperative, meaning it doesn’t require surgery. The treatment will depend on the severity of your condition, when the injury occurred, and the level of pain you’re experiencing, among other things. 

In most cases, specialists advise their patients to make lifestyle changes to help ease the pain. Besides, there are other things you can do in the comfort of your home. In the following section, we’ll outline possible treatments for sesamoiditis.

Lifestyle Changes

If you enjoy participating in physical activities, you should know that taking a break from them for a while should ease the symptoms of sesamoiditis. Talk to a specialist who can recommend how to adapt these activities to your condition. Some people hire professionals who help them learn different running or dancing techniques. These will help them keep from putting too much pressure on the big toe.

You might also need to adjust how you walk and stand. Your podiatrist can advise you on making modifications to your posture that will be good for preventing sesamoiditis.

What’s more, wearing sesamoiditis insoles can help cushion the area and reduce the inflammation. If you do decide to resume the activity that was causing sesamoiditis, you should wear the best shoe inserts for sesamoiditis.


Depending on the severity of your sesamoiditis, sometimes only medication can help ease the pain. In such cases, you can take ibuprofen or aspirin. A doctor may also recommend a cortisone injection, which reduces swelling.

Changing Footwear

Although it seems obvious, many people still don’t bother changing their shoes after they develop sesamoiditis. First, you should avoid wearing all shoes that put pressure on your big toes, such as clogs and high-heels. If you must wear high heels, choose some that are comfortable and have a wide toe box. Soft-soled shoes might work the best.

If you love running, make sure you choose sneakers that support your foot and have enough space. They should be comfortable too, but not be too flexible. Finally, always replace your shoes as soon as they begin to wear out.

Immobilization and Physical Therapy

In some cases, doctors will recommend immobilization. Your foot will be put in a walking cast, which you can remove as required. You’ll probably also get crutches to help you walk without aggravating the condition.

After immobilization, you’ll most likely have to do physical therapy. This will include a series of movements designed to strengthen your feet and big toes. Usually, specialists will prescribe a personalized therapy plan that will help with your particular case.

foot pain sesamoiditis

What are the Surgical Options for Sesamoiditis?

If none of the above treatments work, your specialist might recommend surgery. There are different types, so let’s see what they are:

Removing a Bone

Sesamoiditis surgery may require the removal of one of the sesamoid bones. Taking out both your sesamoid bones can damage the big toe, so it’s not recommended.

Before the surgery, you will be put under general anesthesia. A surgeon will then make a small incision on your foot to detach the tissue from the bone. Extreme care needs to be taken, as there are nerves in your toes that can be damaged. After the sesamoid bone is removed, the tissue is put back into position and the incision is sutured.


Stubborn plantar keratosis can also be treated surgically. The procedure is much easier than sesamoiditis surgery, and recovery is faster.

You’ll also have to go under general anesthesia. As the name suggests, the surgeon will scrape material from the affected area of the bone. Then, he or she will cut the bottom part of the sesamoid bone. Next, they’ll use special equipment to file the edges of the bone to make it smooth.

Bone Graft

If the problem persists, a surgeon might use a bone graft. It can help the bone heal correctly. Many athletes with sesamoiditis undergo this kind of procedure.

Once you’ve been administered general anesthesia, a surgeon will make a small incision on your big toe. They will take a small piece of a bone from the big toe and join it with the sesamoid bone. Then, the surgeon will close the site of the incision.

What Should I Expect with This Type of Surgery?

The outlook of the surgery will depend on the severity of sesamoiditis. If you’ve got a mild case, the recovery will take a couple of days. During that time, you should rest as much as you can and put ice on the area. Usually, a doctor will also prescribe a pain medication.

On the other hand, if your case was severe, it might take more than a week to recover. In some cases, the doctor will have you wear a removable leg brace.

If you’ve undergone bone graft surgery, you’ll need to be even more careful. You will need to wear a cast for a month. After that, you’ll wear a walking cast for two more months.

Before resuming any activities, you should first talk with your doctor. They will check to see if the toe has healed adequately. However, when you recover, you should make sure to avoid putting too much pressure on your foot. For women, you need to wear women’s comfortable shoes for sesamoiditis as often as you can and avoid high heels.

In addition, you may need to go to physical therapy occasionally. Physical therapists will create a personalized recovery program, which you should follow. This means you might have to regularly visit a physical therapy center until you recover.

shoes for sesamoiditis

Is There a Home Treatment for Sesamoiditis?

The home treatment for sesamoiditis includes wearing cushioned shoes that give you enough foot support. Moreover, taking anti-inflammatory medications is recommended. Doctors also often advise people to apply ice packs on the area to reduce any swelling.

Sometimes immobilization is necessary. Patients should also try to elevate their foot when possible and avoid putting weight on the inflamed foot. Moreover, your physical therapist might recommend at-home activities, which you should follow to help gain mobility and strengthen the foot.

How Painful is Sesamoiditis?

This will depend on your condition. Some people experience excruciating pain if they try moving or elevating their big toe. Others might feel discomfort and occasional pain during the day. If the joint pops, it’s often accompanied by a sharp pain. Some patients tend to feel numbness in the affected area.

With this in mind, if your toe is inflamed and you feel pain, you should visit a specialist. They might recommend medication, guide you on how to care for the condition, or even suggest surgery.

How Long Does it Take Sesamoiditis to Heal?

The recovery will depend on the type of sesamoiditis. If your doctor suggests resting at home and avoiding certain physical activities, it might take a couple of weeks to get back to regular tasks. However, if your case is more severe, recovery might take a couple of months. Although it sounds bothersome, in most cases, it allows for the sesamoiditis to heal fully.

Furthermore, if you undergo surgery, the recovery time will depend on how severe your case is. In general, once the symptoms are gone, patients can return to their lifestyle after a couple of days. In others, they need to rest for at least a couple of weeks. During that time, a leg splint might be required.

Is Sesamoiditis Permanent?

Sesamoiditis doesn’t have to be a permanent condition. But the sooner you deal with it, the better the outcome. If you see a specialist once you notice the symptoms, he or she can help you reduce them and suggest therapy. You need to be persistent in treating it, as sesamoiditis can be a very stubborn condition.

Moreover, there is always a risk of it re-occurring. If you don’t change your lifestyle or keep wearing inappropriate shoes, sesamoiditis might appear again. In some cases, you will need to stop certain physical activities completely.

In a nutshell, to avoid potentially damaging your sesamoid bones permanently, make sure you see a specialist at the first sign of trouble.

turf toe vs. sesamoiditis

Is Turf Toe the Same as Sesamoiditis?

Turf toe describes any kind of soft tissue injury that happens because the toe is hyperextended. The injury occurs when the heel is elevated, while the forefoot is fixed on the ground. It often affects those playing soccer, American football, or some other contact sport. When it’s played on artificial grass, the chances of getting hurt are even higher. This is because the playing field is harder and absorbs much less shock than a natural grass field. 

There are shoes with cleats designed for use on artificial fields, and these are more flexible than normal cleats. Although they improve the agility of an athlete, they often don’t provide enough foot support, which can result in injuries.

To identify the injury, doctors use MRI or X-rays. The treatment will depend on the severity of the injury. Usually, turf toe can be treated without surgery. If you’re diagnosed with it, you’ll need plenty of rest. Moreover, you should put ice on the area and elevate the affected foot.

Some cases require wearing a walking boot and resting at least two weeks before going back on the field.

How Can You Prevent Sesamoiditis?

Wearing comfortable and padded footwear can help prevent sesamoiditis. Whenever you can, try to wear sneakers with a wide toe box, as they won’t cramp your toes. You should regularly replace your running shoes, as the padding will wear out over time, causing you problems. You can also add orthotic insoles to your shoes, especially if you’re used to standing or sitting all day. Moreover, if your job requires a lot of lifting, your toe won’t feel too much pressure with orthotics.

There is also a special pad that can help relieve the pain in your toe. It’s called a metatarsal bar. It effectively helps reduce pressure on the sesamoid bones. Sesamoiditis can also occur if you’ve got overpronation. This is when a foot slightly rolls inward when you’re walking. Various coaches can help you readjust your step and fix the issue. Sometimes a specialist prescribes custom orthotics, which can improve your posture and stride.

Finally, since certain activities can be an underlying factor in sesamoiditis, it is good to alternate between them. For instance, you might include swimming in your exercise routine instead of running five days a week. That way, you’ll give your joints periods of rest.

Best Shoes for Sesamoiditis

Whether you’re struggling with sesamoiditis or you want to prevent it, you’ll need to find comfortable shoes. Your footwear needs to allow the toes to move around naturally. However, finding a pair that fits can be challenging if you don’t know what to look for. For that, we’ll tell you which factors you should consider.

The biggest problem people with sesamoiditis struggle with is that their shoes don’t have a wide enough toe box. High-heels are an example of how footwear can cramp your toes and put them in an unnatural position. To ensure your feet don’t suffer, your shoes need to have a wide toe box that will allow the toes to move comfortably.

Furthermore, shoes shouldn’t have heel-to-toe-drop. With this kind of shoe, too much pressure is put on the big toe. Now that you know what to look for when purchasing shoes, let’s look at some of the best shoes on the market.

Best Women’s Dress Shoes for Sesamoiditis

These Trotters are some of the best dress shoes for sesamoiditis that look quite stylish and are lightweight. Since they come in 12 colors, we’re sure you can find something that suits your style. Customers state you can wear them straight out of the box because they’re so comfortable. Since they’re made of leather, they easily conform to your feet.

The shoes look quite classy. But you can also wear them down with some everyday outfit when you’re running errands. These flats come in narrow and wide sizes. However, since they tend to be slightly bigger than your regular shoes, make sure to purchase one size smaller than normal.

These Trotters ballet flats feature a rubber sole, which can absorb any kind of shock. What’s more, owing to their design, they’ll keep you on your feet, even on wet and slippery surfaces.

Best Women’s Sneakers for Sesamoiditis

Propet is a brand known for designing shoes that give you an ultimate comfort experience. And when you’re suffering from sesamoiditis, this is essential. They’re covered in a seamless mesh, allowing your feet to breathe on even the hottest summer days.

The sneakers feature double insoles and ortholite foam which cushions your toes nicely. And if you need to wear custom insoles for your sesamoiditis, you can remove the insoles that come with shoes. The sneakers come in various color options and are affordable.

Since they come in wide and narrow sizes, they’re suitable for women with foot issues or deformities. Many customers have reported they could wear these shoes after their sesamoiditis surgery. If you’re one of them, you’ll be glad to know this footwear will make you look stylish and feels comfortable. Overall, these are among the best women’s sneakers for sesamoiditis, as they’re comfortable, have a wide toe box, and are nicely padded.

Best Women’s Casual Shoes for Sesamoiditis

Cobb Hill is known for manufacturing stylish yet comfy shoes. These Mary Jane flats are great for when you’re running errands or need something for everyday activities. They’re a classic pair of leather shoes, made with laser etching. The hook and loop fasteners give you more support and allow you to adjust the shoes to your needs.

These casual shoes were designed with comfort in mind, so they’re incredibly flexible. Your feet won’t feel cramped, and your toes will be able to move freely. Moreover, the materials used for the insoles are form-fitting, ensuring they adjust to different types of feet. The padding isn’t too soft, but it will allow you to stand in these shoes all day without your legs becoming tired. The shoes feel well-built and sturdy, all because of the EVA outsole.

Best Men’s Dress Shoes for Sesamoiditis

Don’t think we’ve forgotten about men out there with sesamoiditis. These Propet ankle boots look incredibly stylish. Plus, they come in wide widths to ensure your toes can move naturally in every direction. There are tan and black options, and both look good with jeans or khakis. The sleek, modern boots are made of leather, making them exceptionally comfortable. The rubber sponge outsole is flexible and still provides a firm grip.

Since they have a lacing system, you can tie them up as much or as little you need. The removable insole is also a good feature, as it allows you to use custom orthotics to increase comfort. What’s more, odors are prevented due to the anti-microbial lining.

Best Men’s Sneakers for Sesamoiditis

When purchasing sneakers, you don’t have to sacrifice style for comfort. These Propet sneakers are fashionable and come in gray and black. The removable footbed allows you to insert your insoles for more comfort. Moreover, they are Medicare-approved. The EVA midsole gives you much-needed support. Thanks to the suede and mesh upper, your feet will be able to breathe.

Unlike many sneakers, these are inexpensive, with a price of less than $100. The Propet sneakers also boast a gel insert, which will cushion your heel and support it. They’re great for walking long distances and should last a long time.

Best Men’s Casual Shoes for Sesamoiditis

If you’re looking for casual shoes you can wear in almost any situation, look no further. The Rockspot come in three different leather variations. They cradle your foot nicely and support it if you’ve got any issues, such as sesamoiditis.

The insoles feel light and will conform to your feet. The shoes are well-built and don’t lose their shape, even after extended use. Keep in mind that these are casual shoes, so you shouldn’t wear them on rough surfaces, as you will feel everything underfoot. They are also made with high-quality materials, so they’re quite durable.

Best Shoe Inserts for Sesamoiditis

Besides the correct shoe fit, proper shoe inserts are essential when you’re dealing with sesamoiditis. They can make footwear more comfortable and adjust to your feet. Plus, they protect your toes and limit pain when participating in various activities. Let’s take a look at the best shoe insert we could find.

Vionic Orthotic Insole

These orthonic insoles are suitable for men and women. They are a cheaper alternative to custom-made orthotics. However, designed by podiatrists, you can rest assured these insoles are ideal for those with various foot conditions. They are great if you’re struggling with overpronation, which can sometimes also cause sesamoiditis. The cushioned circle at the heel absorbs shock.

If they’re too big, you can cut them to fit your shoes perfectly. Therefore, you can insert them in your boots, sneakers, or casual shoes for maximum comfort.

Even if you’re participating in strenuous activities, such as running, your feet will be supported with these insoles. Plus, you should feel much less pain from the sesamoiditis.

Finally, both men and women can benefit from these comfortable and reliable insoles.