This condition is an irritation of the sesamoid bones, which are located within the tendons that slide along either side of the bottom of the big toe. The sesamoid bones, each about the size of a kernel of corn, provide leverage for the tendons that control the big toe.
Sesamoiditis is caused by physical activities, such as running or dancing, that place repeated stress on the sesamoid bones. The bones can fracture suddenly or very gradually. In addition to the bone fractures, the tendons around the sesamoid bones become inflamed.
Symptoms typically begin with a mild ache in the ball of the foot beneath the big toe. As the aggravating activity is continued, pain increases and can become intense. In addition, bruising and swelling may occur, and the affected toe may be painful when moved.
Treatment options include rest, anti-inflammatory medications, special shoes or pads, taping the big toe, and, in some cases, a leg brace.