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Sesamoid Fractures


Danielle Campagne

, MD, University of California, San Francisco

Last full review/revision Apr 2021| Content last modified Apr 2021
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Fractures may occur in the two small round bones at the base of the big toe (sesamoid bones).

Sesamoid bones may fracture while running, hiking, or participating in sports that involve coming down too hard on the ball of the foot (such as basketball and tennis). (See also Overview of Fractures Overview of Fractures A fracture is a crack or break in a bone. Most fractures result from force applied to a bone. Fractures usually result from injuries or overuse. The injured part hurts (especially when it is... read more Overview of Fractures .)

Usually, if the sesamoid bones are broken, walking causes a deep achy or sharp pain in the ball of the foot behind the big toe. The area may be swollen and red.

If doctors suspect a sesamoid fracture, x-rays are taken. If results x-rays are unclear, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be done.

Treatment of Sesamoid Fractures

  • Use of a specially designed shoe

  • If pain continues, possibly surgery

If the sesamoid bones are fractured but not out of place, wearing a flat, rigid shoe specially designed to keep the pieces of bones from moving may be all that is needed. These shoes are designed to be worn by people who have had a foot fracture. They have an open toe and Velcro fasteners.

Using padding or specially constructed insoles (orthoses) for the shoe helps relieve the pain. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help relieve the pain and swelling.

If pain continues, the broken sesamoid bone may need to be removed surgically. However, removal of these bone may affect the ability to move the foot.

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