Sesamoiditis is a common ailment that affects the forefoot, typically in young people who engage in physical activities like running or dancing. The most common symptom is pain in the ball of the foot, especially of the medial or inner side of the big toe joint.
The term is a general description for any irritation of the sesamoid bone, which are tiny bones within the tendons that run to the big toe. Similar to the kneecap, the sesamoids function as a pulley, increasing the leverage of the tendons controlling the toe. When you push off against the toes, the sesamoids are involved and eventually become irritated, even fractured.
Rest and reducing the pressure to the area is helpful. Even better to reduce the abnormal pressure to the bone that occurs with a faulty gait. This is accomplished through functional orthotics that are designed to allow the joint to bend properly without excess pressure to the sesamoids.
Padding such as a dancer pad (typically felt pad that has a cutout around the sesamoids) is helpful too. Anti-inflammatories, injections and physical therapy may help as well. Rarely is surgery needed.